Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. and South Korea’s top internet portal Naver Corp. are looking to invest as much as 1 trillion won ($940 million) in Asian venture companies through their new start-up fund which both companies agreed in March to set up.
Initially, the two South Korean companies will ante up 100 billion won each to the matching fund and increase their commitments to up to 500 billion won, depending on investment opportunities up for grabs, a Mirae Asset Daewoo source said on April 9.
The venture capital fund focuses on e-commerce, internet platform, healthcare, consumer goods, logistics and distribution service sectors in rapidly-growing Asian markets such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India.
Chinese and Japanese start-ups with a high potential to become a global unicorn company, or a privately-held company with a valuation of $1 billion or more, are also their targets.
In particular, Naver will zoom in on venture firms which are able to create synergies with its businesses such as SnapChat-like application SNOW and messaging application Line which have a broader customer base beyond the domestic market.
Auto lease and financing company Mirae Asset Capital Co. Ltd. and Mirae Asset Global Investments Co. Ltd. will manage the joint fund.
With venture capital spending on the rise across the world, deep-pocketed South Korean companies and investors are joining global competitors in search of new growth engines and better investment returns.
Naver has committed €200 million to Korelya Capital, a French venture capital fund, between 2016 and 2017 to invest in European technology companies.
In 2016, both Mirae Asset Daewoo and Naver launched a separate 100 billion won new tech growth fund to invest in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and smart home industries, mainly among Korean venture companies.
They have strengthened strategic partnerships through cross-shareholdings. In 2017, they acquired 500 billion won worth of shares in each other owned by themselves.
Currently, Naver holds 7.1% of Mirae Asset Daewoo, and the biggest brokerage firm in South Korea owns 1.7% of Naver.
In 2017, Mirae Asset set up another growth funds with other South Korean companies with a primary focus on domestic start-ups: a 150 billion won fund with Celltrion Inc., a biosimilar maker; and 100 billion won fund with GS Retail Co. Ltd.
INVESTMENT IN DIDI CHUXING
Separately, Mirae Asset Financial Group, the parent of Mirae Asset Daewoo, on April 4 announced a plan to launch a 280 billion won private equity fund to invest in around a 0.5% stake in Didi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-sharing company. The PEF will buy existing shares.
Mirae Asset Dewoo will commit 243 billion won to the PEF, with Mirae Asset Capital deploying 10 billion won and managing the fund. They will raise the remaining 27 billion won from domestic institutional investors.
It is poised to be the largest-size investment in a global unicorn company by a South Korean investor and Mirae Asset’s second investment in a Chinese unicorn start-up.
The financial group launched a 13 billion won private equity fund in 2017 to participate in a pre-initial public offering placement of Meituan-Dianping, China’s online to offline service company.
By Seungwoo Lee and Yoonjung Hong
<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>
photo: Getty Images Bank