S Korean seafood giant Sajo Group buys Foodist from PE firm VIG Partners

S Korean seafood giant Sajo Group buys Foodist from PE firm VIG Partners

Source: VIG

South Korean private equity firm VIG Partners has divested 100% of its stake in Foodist Co to Sajo Group, a small F&B focused chaebol for 285 billion won ($205 million), according to an announcement.

In March 2018, VIG had acquired Winplus, a company specialising in the food distribution business targeting small- to mid-sized restaurants. Subsequently, in February 2020, VIG merged Winplus with Hanwha Group Hotel & Resort’s food distribution and catering business to form Foodist.

Foodist achieved an average annual sales growth rate of approximately 19% following the 2020 merger, reaching over 1 trillion won in sales in 2023.

Once the transaction closes in August, VIG is expected to generate over 2x returns within approximately six years, including returns through dividends and refinancing so far.

This marks the second full exit for VIG’s Fund III, which was established in 2016 with a total value of 700 billion won. Previously, VIG exited its investment in Starvision, a leading domestic beauty contact lens company, and has steadily exited from its investments through minority stake sales and refinancing of other portfolios within Fund III.

Following this sale, VIG intends to accelerate the exit process for Fund III.

VIG Partners, which is raising its fifth fund with a target of $1 billion, is bullish about potential buyout opportunities in the country as founder families and conglomerates grow more open to such transactions.

VIG Partners managing partner Chulmin Lee told DealStreetAsia in February that the fifth fund has already achieved a domestic first close at around $360 million. Aiming for a year-end final close, Fund V will build on the success of its predecessor while exploring new opportunities linked to the global recognition of Korean services and products.

The firm remains focused on Korean mid-market buyouts but is also open to diversifying its portfolio to tap evolving market trends. Its portfolio spans health beverages, personal care, funeral services, online education, waste management, and low-cost carrier airlines.

Founded in 2005, VIG Partners has demonstrated a strong track record of investing in small- and medium-sized enterprises across diverse sectors, including financial services, consumer goods, e-commerce, and household appliances. VIG has $2 billion in assets under management across four buyout funds and one credit fund.

Edited by: Pramod Mathew

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