SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — Investment deals by South Korea’s private equity funds hit a record high in 2019, but their investments were still centered on local firms, government data showed Sunday.

Local private equity funds invested 16 trillion won (US$12.9 billion) in 500 companies last year, up from 13.9 trillion won in 2018, according to the data from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

They invested 12.8 trillion won in 421 South Korean companies and 3.2 trillion won in foreign companies, the data showed.

Last year’s investments by private equity funds were significantly higher than a previous three-year average investment of 11.7 trillion won, it said.

At the end of last year, there were 721 private equity funds with assets under management of 84.3 trillion won, according to the data.