Hong Kong fund to sell Japan, South Korea Burger King business in deal over $1bln - source

FILE PHOTO: A Burger King fast food restaurant is pictured in Tokyo, Japan, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
FILE PHOTO: A Burger King fast food restaurant is pictured in Tokyo, Japan, September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Kane Wu

Hong Kong (Reuters) - Private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners is this week launching the sale of its Burger King fast-food businesses in South Korea and Japan, in a deal that could fetch more than $1 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Hong Kong-based Affinity has appointed Goldman Sachs to run the sale, which is targeting both private equity investors and strategic buyers, said the person, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.

The bank declined to comment.

Affinity bought full control of Burger King South Korea in 2016 for about $170 million and a year later acquired the American fast-food brand's Japan franchise.

The South Korean business reported 680 billion won ($572 million) in revenue in 2021, with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) at 80 billion won ($67 million), said the person, adding its adjusted EBITDA in 2022 is expected to reach 100 billion won.

Burger King Japan's adjusted EBITDA in 2021 was 700 million yen ($6 million), the person said.

Global fast-food chains such as McDonald's and Yum! Brands are trading at 20 to 30 times their EBITDA, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Burger King India is trading at about 25 times of its EBITDA.

Affinity and Burger King Japan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An official at BKR Corporation, the operator of Burger King in South Korea, declined to comment.

The Nikkei business daily first reported the sale on Monday.

It comes as the consumer and retail sector faces tremendous challenges and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In South Korea, businesses have adapted by relying more on deliveries, which has prompted exponential growth for its food delivery apps.

Burger King Korea said on Monday the number of monthly active users on its mobile app in December exceeded 1.4 million, the highest since the app was launched in May 2016.

Since Affinity's acquisition, Burger King has been in an expansion mode in South Korea and Japan.

Burger King runs 440 outlets in South Korea, more than its rival McDonald's.

The Japan franchise said on Monday it would open three new outlets in January, bringing the total there to 149, with plans to open more "aggressively" in 2022.

($1 = 114.4800 yen)

(Reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong, additional reporting by Sam Nussey and Rocky Swfit in Tokyo and Joyce Lee in Seoul, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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