Vogo Fund Buying Stake in South Korean Credit Card Co

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean private equity firm Vogo Fund is buying the 30.7 percent stake of two banks in a domestic card processing company for $156 million and is in talks with other banks to raise its holdings to more than 50 percent within this year.

Vogo Fund said on Monday it had signed definitive agreements with Hana Bank and SC First Bank to buy the stake in BC Card Co Ltd for 194.4 billion won, which will make it the card processor’s largest shareholder.

BC Card, with assets of 1.8 trillion won, was formed by a consortium of member banks in 1982.

It processes credit card transactions for member banks, including Kookmin Bank and Woori Bank, which provide credit card services to a combined 39 million cardholders. Most credit card companies in South Korea carry out their own processing activities.

Hana is a unit of the country’s No. 4 banking group Hana Financial Group (086790.KS) and SC First Bank belongs to Standard Chartered (STAN.L) (2888.HK).

The purchase price has been set at 144,000 won per share, but that would be subject to possible adjustments depending on further share acquisitions, Vogo said in a statement.

“We look forward to enhancing BC Card’s value by improving the service quality and efficiency for its card processing clients and introducing best practices from leading global companies,” Jason Shin, managing partner of Vogo Capital Advisors, said in the statement.

First Data Corp., Total System Services Inc (TSS.N) and Fidelity National Information Services Inc (FIS.N) in the United States provide similar services, Vogo Fund said.

Vogo Fund is one of few active home-grown private equity funds in South Korea and is set to exit from part of its stake in Tong Yang Life Insurance which is going public next month. It has more than $620 million committed capital and seeks control of strategic minority stake in a target company.

SC First Bank also said in a separate statement that it has agreed to sell its entire 14.85 percent stake in BC Card to Vogo Fund and its affiliates. ($1=1246.4 Won) (Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)