South Korea’s STIC Investment is on track to pick up the pace of exiting portfolio companies in its first special situation fund, according to industry sources on Tuesday.

The firm’s 603 billion won special situation fund – STIC Special Situation Private Equity Fund I – dates from April 2016. National Pension Service (NPS), the country’s largest pension fund, committed 250 billion won as an anchor investor. Other limited partners in the fund included Korean Teachers’ Credit Union (KTCU), Public Officials Benefit Association (POBA) and the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

The close of the fund came on the heels of the firm’s exit from LIG Nex1: In 2012, STIC bought 49 percent of the defense company, which at the time was suffering from liquidity issues, and three years later exited via an IPO. On the back of this successful investment, the firm was able to raise 603.2 billion won for its first special situation fund, surpassing the original 500 billion won target.

The fund has deployed about 95 percent of committed capital in just two and a half years since its close, building a portfolio of five investments.

Among them is the acquisition of a minority stake in Hanwha S&C. Hanwha Group, the country’s seventh largest conglomerate, sold a partial stake in the company to STIC in 2017 in an attempt to avoid regulatory scrutiny over internal transactions. After merging with Hanwha Systems in the following year, the company made a successful debut on the benchmark Kospi last November, which STIC capitalized on to make a partial exit worth 302.5 billion won. As the three-month lock-up period has expired, STIC will likely continue to look for opportunities to sell the remaining stake.

Hancom Lifecare (formerly San Cheong), a safety equipment company in which STIC invested through the fund in partnership with Hancom Inc. in 2017, is also expected to start preparations for an IPO later this year, with Mirae Asset Daewoo hired to act as bookrunner. The Hancom Lifecare deal was a case of capitalizing on investment opportunities arising from succession issues of mid-sized family-owned businesses.

Double Down Interactive (DDI), a provider of social casino games which a consortium of DoubleU Games and STIC bought in 2017 for about 950 billion won, also submitted paperwork to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, aiming to list on the Nasdaq later this year. STIC acquired a 46 percent stake in a special purpose company that owns 100 percent of DDI, with the acquisition partly funded through the special situation fund.

CJ Healthcare and Big Hit Entertainment, in both of which STIC invested in 2018, are on track to list on the domestic stock exchange, too. At that time, STIC participated in a consortium led by Kolmar Korea that acquired 100 percent of the healthcare company for 1.31 trillion won. CJ Healthcare’s bankers have estimated the value of the company at about two trillion won.

STIC is the third largest shareholder in Big Hit Entertainment, the label behind mega popular boy group BTS, with a 12.24 percent stake. The company’s IPO valuation is estimated at about four trillion won.

The life of the first special situation fund is slated to end in 2024, but STIC is expected to be able to exit most of its investments within a year or two.

On the back of a successful track record, STIC closed its second special situation fund at 1.21 trillion won last year, its biggest yet. The fund size can increase to 1.5 trillion won with more foreign investors expected to commit capital to the fund.

The second fund has already deployed about 30 percent of committed capital with its investments in parking lot operator Hi Parking and Iljin Materials’ subsidiary in Malaysia. STIC is also expected to target a large-cap sector as it is allowed to deploy about 20 percent of fund capital to do buyouts. (By reporter Kim Hye-ran)