Corsair Capital appears unlikely to intervene in a battle between Kyobo Life Insurance and four of its investors led by Affinity Partners for control of the company, as the insurer has a strong relationship with the U.S. investment firm.

The New York-based firm, which specializes in financial services companies, first invested in Kyobo Life in 2007 and is now the second largest shareholder with a 9.79% stake, behind chairman Shin Chang-jae, who holds 33.78%.

There has been speculation that Corsair Capital may try to exploit the battle between Shin and investors Affinity Partners, IMM Private Equity, Baring Private Equity Asia and GIC Private, which together own 24% of the insurer, to take control of the firm.

However, many observers consider this to be a highly unlikely scenario, especially as financial ties are so deep between Kyobo Life Insurance and the investment firm.

Kyobo Life, South Korea’s second largest insurer, is a long-standing investor in funds managed by Corsair Capital. Most recently, it put money into the firm’s infrastructure fund investing in Australia’s shipping and logistics services provider in 2019.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), which holds a 7.62% stake, is also considered an ally of Shin. The Canadian pension scheme originally bought 9.93% of Kyobo Life in 2012, with observers convinced Corsair Capital was behind the deal because OTTP was also one of the key limited partners of the firm’s funds. In 2016, OTPP sold part of its stake to Life Investors of Korea, an investment vehicle run by Corsair Capital.

Corsair Capital has not responded publicly to the dispute between Kyobo and its investors. The four investors also regard the investment firm as an ally of Shin.

“It is very unlikely that Corsair Capital will join forces with other investors in Kyobo Life to attack Shin,” an official at one of the four firms said. (Reporting by Si-eun Park)

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