Unitas Capital Sells Buy The Way to Lotte Group

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean retailer Lotte Group said on Monday it will take over the convenience store chain Buy The Way from private equity firm Unitas Capital for about $235 million, in a move to challenge sector leader FamilyMart (8028.T).

Asia-focused Unitas aimed to sell the retailer and sought to close the deal by the end of the month, two sources said earlier this month.

“The agreement was signed this afternoon, worth slightly more than 270 billion won ($235 million),” Lotte Group spokesman Song No-hyun said.

He added that the announcement would be made either later in the day or early on Tuesday.

Unitas Capital could not be reached for comment.

South Korea’s convenience store market has been growing rapidly, and Buy The Way claims about a 10 percent share with 1,400 outlets.

Seven-Eleven, which is run by Lotte under a license agreement with Seven & I Holdings (3382.T), has 2,000 outlets and a 16 percent market share in South Korea.

FamilyMart (8028.T), Japan’s third-largest convenience store, is the sector leader, with about 4,400 outlets and a third of industry-wide sales. ($1=1148.9 Won)

(Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee and Shin Jieun; Editing by Ken Wills)