South Korean real estate and infrastructure operation & management (O&M) company YIDO is likely to be put on the market again after its negotiations with Macquarie Korea Asset Management collapsed over management issues.
Many global private equity (PE) firms have shown interest in buying a controlling stake in YIDO, industry sources said on Wednesday (February 17), even though chief executive Choi Jung-hoon reportedly wants to retain full rights over a takeover.
YIDO earlier agreed that Macquarie would buy the entire stock owned by existing financial investors, giving it a controlling stake of around 60% that would include some of Choi’s shareholding and new shares. Choi and the financial investors are said to have accepted a valuation of over 300 billion won ($270 million) for a 100% stake, including a management premium, but Choi pulled out of the deal at the last minute.
Choi, who started the negotiations knowing that he would retain his representative position even after handing over his controlling stake, reportedly was unhappy that Macquarie wanted to control the major decision-making processes. Choi insisted on exercising full rights, including voting rights, despite losing the majority shareholding.
It is believed that Choi was unwilling to cede full control to Macquarie because he recognizes that there are alternatives, including a possible initial public offering. Any new potential investor will need to accept this condition if it wants to strike a deal.
Market insiders said investors won be able to buy the company at a lower price than the figure discussed with Macquarie, because YIDO is seen as an attractive target and it is known that the negotiations with Macquarie fell through due to non-price terms.
PE firms that are interested in investing in YIDO are said to be deep-pocketed buyout firms like Macquarie. They can become a major shareholder with a 40% stake just by purchasing shares from IMM Investment and Dominus Investment, but any buyer will ultimately want to be in the dominant position, which includes taking Choi’s stake.
Meanwhile, the fact that the price offered by Macquarie met expectations of existing financial investors within a short investment period signifies that it may be a burden for other potential buyers. Macquarie was able to take a relatively aggressive stance as it has plenty of assets in its portfolio which could create synergies with YIDO.
Choi, the eldest son of Daebo Group chief executive Choi Dung-kyu, became the largest shareholder of YIDO in 2015 with a 45% stake. (Reporting by Si-eun Park)