How to do Korea M&A

Unison Capital’s acquisition of Nexcon Technology last year avoided controversy by stressing cooperation and staying below the radar. Could it change Korean perceptions of private equity?

When Kim Soomin first approached the management of Nexcom in February 2012 he knew that he had to tread carefully. He represented Unison Capital, a Japanese private-equity firm that had identified the Korean technology company as an investment opportunity and as a target.

Public opinion in Korea has been hostile to private equity firms for more than a decade, blaming them for preying on local companies weakened and vulnerable in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

In popular perception, Texas-based Lone Star’s acquisition of Korea Exchange Bank in 2003 epitomised the cowboy behaviour of predators long of cash but short of responsibility.

But...

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