Ideal Private Equity has strengthened its presence in the South Korean PE industry after investing the remaining committed capital of its first blind-pool fund in GL PharmTech.

Founded in 2016, the firm closed the fund at 45.1 billion won ($40 million) in 2018, with Korea Development Bank and Korea Growth Investment Corp as the anchor investors.

The fund made its first investment in automation solutions provider KAIS, which was also the first buyout deal the PE firm had ever made. Telecoms equipment manufacturer Gigalane was the fund’s second portfolio company. The firm acquired convertible bonds worth 9 billion won issued by Gigalane in March and another 7 billion won worth in July. It recently invested 9 billion won in GL PharmTech.

Ideal Private Equity has continuously focused on investing in promising future industries and small and mid-sized enterprises with growth potential. KAIS is a South Korean factory automation solution provider with a wide range of products, including high-end sensors, displacement sensors, microscopes, machine vision systems and inspection systems. 

By investing in Gigalane, the PE firm took a bet on the growth potential of the 5G industry. Gigalane’s semiconductor equipment manufacturing business has been ranked number 1 in the global LED market since 2012 and the company has entered the semiconductor etcher and nano imprinter market.

GL PharmTech, founded in 2002, develops and produces incrementally modified drugs and generic drugs, including pain and fever relievers and birth control pills. The proceeds will be used to develop the South Korean pharmaceutical company’s pipeline of therapies, including GLH8NDE, a treatment for dry eye disease that has recently passed phase 1 clinical trials. Other treatments for diseases such as diabetes and endometriosis will also begin clinical trials next year.

Ideal Private Equity invested 40 billion won in PANKO, a global garment manufacturing and exporting company, through its project fund in December 2016 and exited last year with an internal rate of return (IRR) of 15.8%.

It also invested about 10 billion won in publishing company Wisdom House that was sold to NHN Entertainment with an IRR of 24%. The PE firm is expected to start forming its second blind-pool while managing its current portfolio companies. (Reporting by Hye-ran Kim)