Groupon sells No. 2 mobile commerce site TMON

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Groupon sells No. 2 mobile commerce site TMON

A consortium of global investors led by private equity firm Anchor Equity Partners and KKR signed a deal to buy a controlling stake in Korea’s Ticket Monster (TMON), the country’s No. 2 mobile commerce company, from Groupon for nearly $800 million, the group announced Monday.

According to the deal, Anchor and KKR in conjunction with TMON’s management will jointly take a stake of about 59 percent in Ticket Monster. Investors in the consortium will buy the stake for $782 million and inject new capital into the company to help fund future growth opportunities. Anchor and KKR will hold equal stakes in the company.

KKR and Anchor will work closely with TMON’s co-founder and CEO Dan Shin and the management team to grow the business.

“We are extremely excited to work with such world-class partners. KKR and Anchor not only bring global experience in the retail and technology sectors, but they are also experienced local partners with strong business expertise in Korea,” said Shin. “We are thrilled to be working with distinguished partners who share our vision for growth and offer significant pools of capital in support of TMON’s initiatives. With their help and investment, this company will have greater opportunities to attract new customers and expand into new businesses.”

Chicago-based Groupon would see significant profit from the investment as the deal values the Korean e-commerce giant at more than $260 million, the price that Groupon paid to buy it from LivingSocial Korea in 2014.

Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky said the partnership strengthens an already powerful local brand.

“Ticket Monster demonstrates the global appeal and power of a mobile commerce marketplace,” said Lefkofsky. ”With additional support from KKR and Anchor, TMON will be even better resourced and positioned in the Korean market.”

The deal is significant in that it signals the country’s mobile commerce market still has high prospects for growth, and there is high global interest in the market.

The consortium considered that Ticket Monster and other Korean e-commerce players have the ability to expand their influence outside of the country to reach other markets, including China.

“As a subsidiary of U.S. listed firm Groupon, there have been some constraints to make aggressive investments which we really need in this highly competitive market,” said an associate of the PR team at TMON. “The latest deal is expected to help us secure bullets for aggressive investments.”

TMON has been preparing to expand its service across Asia, especially targeting the rising number of Chinese tourists coming to Korea, by introducing them with its unique discounts for Korean cosmetics and other products.

“We believe that Korea represents a sizable and attractive market opportunity given the clear shift by consumers towards mobile commerce, convenience and value goods,” said Stephen Ko, managing director of KKR Asia, and Wi Sae-wook, an Anchor partner

The latest transaction is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to regulatory and customary closing conditions.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [song.suhyun@joongang.co.kr]

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