M&As in S. Korea dip 23 pct in 2017: data

SEOUL– Corporate mergers and acquisitions in South Korea declined 23.2 percent last year from a year earlier, with the consumer sector the most vibrant of all segments, industry data showed on Saturday.

According to the data compiled by U.K.-based information provider Mergermarket, the country recorded 360 deals worth US$41.6 billion last year compared with 353 deals worth $54.3 billion in 2016.

Dealmaking in South Korea has been trending downward since hitting historical highs in 2015, when there were 360 deals valued at $82.9 billion.

South Korea’s contribution to M&A activity in the Asia-Pacific region has also decreased, from 7.7 percent in 2016 to 5.8 percent in 2017, according to the data.

The data showed that there was substantial interest in the consumer sector, which had 57 deals worth $10.4 billion, the most by value of all sectors.

There were 42 inbound deals worth $7.3 billion, recording a 79 percent increase by value on the back of Unilever’s $2.5 billion acquisition of cosmetics firm Carver Korea, compared to 46 deals valued at $4.1 billion in 2016.

On the other hand, outbound activity by South Korean companies dropped by more than half in 2017 with 75 deals worth $5.8 billion compared to 48 deals worth $14 billion, as Korean companies sought smaller targets, the data showed.

South Korean investors showed more interest in Southeast Asian countries last year. For example, Vietnam saw seven deals worth a total of $290 million, a nearly three-fold jump from the previous year, the data showed.

Outbound activity is expected to increase as South Korean chaebol such as SK, CJ and Lotte continue making overseas buys. Kakao, the operator of Korea’s dominant messaging app KakaoTalk, may emerge as a new notable player in 2018 since it announced that it will raise $1 billion in the first quarter of the year for global M&A in the technology, media and telecommunications sectors, Mergermarket said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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