SK Holdings Co Ltd, the parent of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, will invest $300 million (355 billion won) in ChinData Group, a Chinese data center operator backed by Bain Capital, industry sources said on August 10.
The investment will be financed from one of the conglomerate’s so-called Corporate Partnership (COPA) funds, which typically are launched by a large domestic company in partnership with a large asset owner such as a pension fund and a mutual aid association. The fund’s investment committee is expected to approve the investment plan at a meeting later this week.
SK Holdings and IMM Investment, the general partner of the COPA fund, have a common interest in infrastructure assets and this played a key role in the deal, industry watchers said. SK Holdings reportedly invested a total of 472 billion won in Hong Kong-based logistics real estate platform ESR Cayman Ltd for two years from 2017. IMM Investment earlier this year bought information technology services company Dreamline Co Ltd for about 90 billion won to expand its portfolio in the internet data centers market.
“The deal is an outcome of a partnership between SK Holdings and IMM Investment,” a source said. “SK Holdings were searching for investment opportunities for infrastructure assets in China, while IMM Investment was interested in the data center sector.”
U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital is the largest shareholder of ChinData Group, which was formed last year after the firm bought the data center operator for $570 million and merged it with existing portfolio company Bridge Data Centres. ChinData Group reportedly plans for a U.S. listing this year.
“The fact that Bain Capital is the largest shareholder of ChinData Group seemingly helped alleviate suspicion toward a Chinese company and also shorten the time needed to make the investment decision,” another source said.
The deal was reportedly led by Hyun-chan Cho, president and chief investment officer at IMM Investment. Prior to joining the firm, Cho worked at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) where he built a strong network of business relationships in China.
SK Group has partnered with IMM Investment in other previous cross-border deals, including investments in Vietnamese food giant Masan Group in 2018 and Vietnam’s largest private company Vingroup in 2019. (Reporting by Byung-yoon Kim and Hye-ran Kim)