Chinese private equity (PE) firm FountainVest Partners is attracting keen market interest after it was picked as the preferred bidder to buy CJ Rokin from CJ Logistics.

The PE firm offered around 1.2 trillion won ($1.1 billion), the highest price not only in the final round of bidding but also in the progressive deal, an industry source said.

Founded in 2007, FountainVest is not well known in Korea, but it has a strong reputation in global capital markets, including those in China.

One of the firm’s most notable deals was its acquisition of offline advertising solution provider Focus Media in 2013, in a consortium with global PE firm Carlyle and Chinese conglomerate Fosun International.

The consortium paid about $3.7 billion, of which $1.53 billion was financed through loans from financial institutions. The deal attracted close attention, as there have been few leveraged buyouts in China due to its capital controls and restrictive regulations. Many global investment banks, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, USB and Deutsche Bank, participated in the buyout deal.

In 2019, FountainVest formed a consortium with China’s Anta Sports and Tencent to take over Helsinki-based Amer Sports, reportedly for around 4.6 billion euros.

FountainVest created a $950 million blind-pool fund in 2008, and formed blind-pool funds worth $1.3 billion in 2012 and $2.1 billion in 2016. It also raised 1.7 billion yuan for its first yuan-denominated fund in 2018.

The firm reportedly raised $1.6 billion for the first close of its fourth dollar-denominated blind-pool fund, and is said to be targeting $2.8 billion with a hard cap set at $3.2 billion.

“FountainVest’s limited partners include not only Chinese institutional investors but also pension funds and insurance companies in North America, Europe and Middle East,” said an industry source. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim)