Singapore-based private equity firm Affirma Capital has reached the first close of its fifth Korea fund, Ascenta V, at 443 billion won ($403 million), according to a press statement.
The PE firm is targeting to close the fund in October this year with total assets under management (AUM) of 700 billion won ($636 million). The targeted amount has been increased by 40% from the initial target of 500 billion won ($455 million) following a successful marketing phase, despite COVID-19, the PE firm said in the statement.
The AUM of Ascenta V is double that of its predecessor fund, Ascenta IV, and it has attracted 14 limited partners (LPs) including Korea’s sovereign wealth funds and major banks. The capital will be deployed in Korea, China, India, as well as Southeast Asian countries.
“We continue to focus on mid-market growth and buyouts with an added focus on ESG [environmental, social and corporate governance] and global expansion — a mandate which has differentiated Affirma Capital over decades,” said Taeyub Kim, the founding partner and head of Affirma Capital Korea.
First investment in T Map Mobility
Following the first close, Affirma has made its first investment — $181 million in the pre-IPO funding round of South Korea’s T Map Mobility, a mobility business unit that recently spun off from the telecommunications operator SK Telecom.
According to a media report, T Map has signed an agreement to issue 200 billion won worth of shares to Affirma Capital and EastBridge Partners, a Korea-based PE fund.
Meanwhile, Affirma Capital’s press announcement mentioned ride-hailing giant Uber is also participating in T Map’s pre-IPO round. “The global and local mobility sector is changing rapidly and SK Telecom decided to spin off T Map and invite global financial investors who are familiar with the mobility sector and who can help the company grow,” said Jongho Lee, CEO of T Map.
T Map is a dominant map-navigation service provider in Korea. The company’s map navigation service is used by around 77% of car drivers in the country. T Map has 13.2 million monthly active users and is looking to expand its business portfolio across both B2B and B2C line-ups to monetise its user base.
T Map is Affirma Capital’s third investment in Korea post its spin-off from Standard Chartered Bank in August 2019. Affirma Capital will help T Map expand its B2B businesses using database analytics and develop various mobility-related service products as well as enter Southeast Asia markets.
Affirma Capital’s previous investments include a follow-on investment in the meat processor and distributor Sunwoo Fresh, and an online-based commerce company APR.
Affirma Capital is an emerging market-focused PE with an AUM of $3.5 billion. It invests in buyout and growth capital opportunities in emerging markets including Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The firm has deployed over $6 billion in over 100 companies across these markets.