Opus Private Equity (Opus PE) has launched a blind-pool fund investing in growth-stage companies after creating a new specialist team to lead the strategy.

The Seoul-based firm has also submitted a proposal for a New Deal mandate from Korea Development Bank (KDB) that targets growth companies, according to sources. If it succeeds, the fund could have the state-controlled bank as an anchor investor.

The firm created a new team focused on growth deals last month, which is in addition to its existing team dedicated to distressed private equity transactions. Opus PE has continued to recruit veterans with experience in growth investments from other investment firms for the past year, including Cho Jung-hoon and Lee Woen-jun.

“The launch of a new team is consistent with our long-standing plans to expand our investment capabilities into growth-stage companies,” an official at Opus PE said. “With new staff on board, we will be more active in searching for investment opportunities.”

Cho, who is a Seoul National University graduate, worked at the PE unit of Samsung Securities and at Aju IB Investment before joining Opus PE. He led Samsung Securities’ investments in sportswear brand Fila Korea and tire mold manufacturing company Saehwa IMC, which generated internal rates of return (IRR) of 34.5% and 24.3% respectively. He is also known for leading Aju IB’s investments in game software developer Pearl Abyss, which delivered a whopping IRR of 337.5%.

Lee started his PE career at Woori Private Equity before moving to Highland Capital Management, where he led a 41 billion won ($36.6 million) investment in consumer goods company Aekyung Industrial. The deal generated a IRR of 32%.

Opus PE, founded in 2010, has a strong track record in distressed investing. Its 2012 vintage fund, which was jointly managed by bad asset manager UAMCO, had 58 billion won in commitments and invested in non-performing assets of distressed companies. The vehicle produced an IRR of 10% at its termination in 2016.

An investor consortium comprising Opus PE, NH Private Equity and Dongbu Corp recently entered into advanced negotiations to acquire Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction. It has two active blind-pool vehicles investing in distressed companies. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)

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