Halla Group has reportedly picked a consortium of Stonebridge Asset Management and Kakao VX for its Ceragio Country Club (CC) in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province and Saint Four CC in Jeju Island amid soaring valuations for South Korean golf clubs.

The group has been looking for a buyer through limited competitive bidding since the second half of 2020, with strategic investors, asset management firms and private equity firms with interests in the golf business joining the final round of bidding.

The consortium was only the second-ranked candidate, after offering a price in the low 300 billion won range, but was picked as the preferred bidder after joining Halla Group’s development project at Jeju Myosanbong Tourist Complex.  

Ceragio CC is an 18-hole public golf course and Saint Four CC is a 36-hole golf course consisting of a 27-hole public course and a nine-hole private course.

The golf courses have struggled with deteriorating profitability but their position within the Halla Group has improved dramatically thanks to the booming golf industry and soaring valuations of courses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ceragio CC is considered to be attractive as it is located close to the Seoul metropolitan area. Saint Four CC reportedly swung to a net profit in 2020, escaping a complete capital erosion which had continued until the third quarter of last year.

Halla Group will retrieve its investment through the sale, while securing a partner to develop the Jeju Myosanbong Tourist Complex. With an area of 4.3 million square meters, the complex is the largest among tourism development sites on the island.

The group recently selected Kakao VX and Stonebridge Asset Management as its partners to attract investment in the complex. Stonebridge Asset Management will be in charge of investment, while Kakao VX will be responsible for operations.

“We cannot confirm issues related to Halla Group,” an official at Stonebridge Asset Management said when asked to comment on the sale. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)