South Korea-based Unison Capital Inc. has signed a definitive agreement to sell milk tea brand Gong Cha to US private equity firm TA Associates for around 350 billion won ($288 million), nearly five times its investment in the franchise operator.
Under the stock purchase agreement, TA Associates will acquire 100% of Gong Cha from Unison Capital and Martin Berry and his wife who introduced the Taiwan-style tea to South Korea in 2012.
Unison Capital held a 76.9% stake in Gong Cha, and Mr. and Mrs. Berry owned the remaining 23.1%.
The deal will be completed on Sept. 11 when TA Associates is slated to pay the balance.
The transaction marked the first exit by a South Korea-based private equity house from a global franchise operator after improving its corporate value.
Unison Capital acquired the South Korean operations of Gong Cha in 2014 from Mr. and Mrs. Berry and then acquired the global headquarters in 2017.
Over the past five years, it had invested about 60 billion won in the milk tea brand.
For the Gong Cha acquisition, Unison Capital raised capital only from South Korean institutional investors: National Pension Service, Government Employees Pension Service, Public Officials Benefit Association, Export-Import Bank of Korea, Seoul Guarantee Insurance Co., KB Insurance Co. Ltd. and Korea Growth Investment Corp.
By Hugh YH Jeong
<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>