JobKorea deal will bolster Affinity EP’s portfolio

The acquisition of South Korea’s top online recruiting company JobKorea will be the second big-ticket deal made by global private equity (PE) firm Affinity Equity Partners since the launch of its $6 billion blind-pool fund in 2018.

H&Q has selected Affinity Equity Partners to acquire a 100% stake in JobKorea for nearly 900 billion won ($790 million) after an intense competition involving major funds like CVC Capital, TPG and MBK Partners, industry sources said on Thursday (March 4).

Its is the second secondary deal made by Affinity Equity Partners after its acquisition of 100% of Burger King Korea for 210 billion won in 2016 from PE firm VIG Partners, formerly Vogo Investment. The deal was an example of a PE firm taking full advantage of its status as a global fund, as most of the financing came from foreign limited partners.

Affinity Equity Partners has made numerous successful investments since it entered the South Korean market. It earned 4.8 trillion won by selling Oriental Brewery to AB InBev in 2014 and pocketed 1.2 trillion won in 2016 by selling Loen Entertainment, the provider of music streaming platform Melon, to Kakao.

The company has used its $6 billion Affinity Asia Pacific Fund V for big ticket deals since 2018, including the purchase of South Korea’s leading outsourcing service provider UBase for 380 billion won.

It also has strengthened its ties with the country’s conglomerates. Affinity Equity Partners signed an agreement to invest one trillion won in Shinsegae’s online platform SSG.com, along with BRV Capital Management. The PE firm injected 70 billion won immediately after signing the contract and is expected to invest the remaining amount by 2022. Emart will be the largest shareholder of SSG.com with a 50% stake, followed by Shinsegae with 25% and a financial investor with 25% after the investment is completed.

Affinity Equity Partners bought a 60% stake in the maintenance, repair and operations business of LG Group’s subsidiary ServeOne for 600 billion won in 2019 and in the following year it invested around 1.1 trillion won in Shinhan Financial Group, together with Baring PEA. The investment gave Affinity Equity Partners a 3.96% stake in the banking group and Baring PEA 3.62%.

The PE firm has continued to make bolt-on acquisitions to boost its existing portfolio companies’ enterprise values. It invested in Nexus Community through portfolio company UBase in 2020 and acquired Locker Room Corporation through household product maker Lock & Lock. (Reporting by Si-eun Park)