Shinhan Financial to buy Doosan’s investment arm

Doosan Co Ltd has tentatively named Shinhan Financial Group Co Ltd as the preferred buyer for its majority stake in Neoplux, sources said on July 28.

The move is part of cash strapped Doosan Group’s efforts to secure liquidity. The final decision is subject to consent from creditors.

Neoplux manages private equity and venture capital funds with total assets under management of approximately 780 billion won ($656 million) as of the end of 2019. Founded in 2000, the firm has particularly built a strong track record in the venture capital space.

Neoplux’s strength in venture capital is a key reason that Shinhan Financial Group, which is seeking to increase its investment in startups, has expressed strong interest in the firm, industry watchers said. Several other investors had also shown initial interest but eventually pulled out, leaving Shinhan Financial Group the only potential buyer for Neoplux.

A change in the ownership could allow Neoplux to raise funds more easily than before as the firm can strengthen relationships with its clients which include Shinhan Financial Group’s investment unit and subsidiaries. However, there are concerns over the impact of the change on the firm’s investment decision-making process.

“Investment firms belonging to banking groups typically take a conservative approach when making investment decisions,” said an official from one private equity firm. “Their decision-making process also tends to take longer.”

The planned acquisition has created a mixed response among Neoplux’s staff. Some are concerned about the consistency of investment, while others expect little change in the firm’s investment direction, saying external and independent members continue to participate in the investment committee’s decision-making process.

“It is a watershed moment for Neoplux,” an industry insider said. “I don’t think there will be notable changes (after the acquisition) but the situation needs to be watched.” (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)