January 19, 2019

Korea’s M&A market slows for 2nd straight year in 2017

PUBLISHED : January 24, 2018 - 13:07

UPDATED : January 24, 2018 - 13:15

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[THE INVESTOR] Korea’s merger and acquisition deals slowed in 2017 for two consecutive years after recording historical highs in 2015, according to global financial business data provider Mergermarket on Jan. 24.

The country recorded 360 M&A deals worth US$41.6 billion during 2017. While the number of deals was slightly up from 353 in 2016 to 360, the total value plunged 23.2 percent from US$52.3 billion. 

In 2015, the country saw record M&As due to mega deals that were worth more than $10 billion. 

The most active sector in 2017 was retail where 57 deals worth US$10.4 billion occurred. The growth in this sector was mostly driven by a handful of large deals including the US$ 2.6 billion demerger of Lotte Corp. 

Industrials and chemicals sector, which had topped the chart in the previous year, saw a 45 percent decrease to US$9.6 billion in deal value although the sector saw 104 deals.

Inbound deals jumped 79 percent by value to US$7.3 billion backed by Unilever’s US$2.5 billion acquisition of a 95.39 percent stake in cosmetics firm Carver Korea. Korean companies’ outbound M&As saw an increase in deal counts to 75 in 2017 from 48 in the previous year but the value halved to US$5.8 billion as they sought smaller targets.

The US remained the most targeted destination by value for Korean investors in 2017 with a total of 19 deals worth US$ 1.6 billion. Japan was the second most popular destination with five deals for US$ 1.4 billion, with three of the top five outbound deals targeting the country -- Lantern Advisory & Investments’ US$ 665 million acquisition of seven solar power plants, and MBK Partners’ US$ 360 million buyout of Tasaki and its US$355 million takeover of a 68.31 percent stake in Kuroda Electric.

Korean investors showed more interest in Southeast Asian countries in 2017. For example, Vietnam saw seven deals worth a total of US$290 million, a nearly threefold jump compared to 2016.

By Park Ga-young (

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