JKL Partners and Glenwood Private Equity are viewed as two of the leading candidates to secure management deals for the 800 billion won ($667 million) of funds being invested this year by South Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS), as competition intensifies between private equity firms at home and abroad.

NPS recently announced a shortlist of 10 firms, which will be whittled down to five external managers after candidates make their final presentations later this month. South Korean media outlet Sedaily, which released its list of likely frontrunners on Thursday (June 11), said competition was fiercer than ever this year because the NPS had decided for the first time to select managers regardless of their fund size.

Sedaily said the company most likely to land a deal was JKL Partners, South Korea’s “first-generation” private equity fund, which was founded in 2011. It already has ties with NPS through blind fund mandates and stood out in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market when it acquired a local insurance company last year.

Seoul-based Glenwood Private Equity, which recently secured several M&A deals, is also considered to be close to landing the mandates. The other three leading candidates named by Sedaily are Korean firms SkyLake and Dominus Investment and Australian private equity fund Macquarie Korea Opportunities.  

Some small and medium-sized private equity funds are also known to be on the shortlist. The winners are expected to be announced early next month at the latest. (Reporting by Kyoungho Lee)