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Carlyle Group fund acquires A Twosome Place coffee chain

A branch of A Twosome Place (Courtesy of A Twosome Place)
A branch of A Twosome Place (Courtesy of A Twosome Place)
Global investment firm Carlyle Group’s buyout fund Carlyle Asia Partners V has inked a deal to acquire 100 percent ownership of South Korea’s No. 2 coffee chain, A Twosome Place, officials said Friday.

The final agreement followed negotiations between Carlyle and Hong Kong-based Anchor Equity Partners, which owned the franchise. The exact value of the takeover deal has not been revealed but investment banking sources estimate that it is worth between 700 billion won ($592 million) and 800 billion won.

Launched by CJ Foodville in 2002, A Twosome Place opened its first store in the Sinchon area of western Seoul.

Positioned as a premium dessert cafe, the coffee chain has more than 1,400 branches at home and abroad.

The CJ Group’s restaurant business unit had sold its flagship coffeehouse chain to Anchor Equity Partners in April 2019 as part of restructuring.

The Hong Kong-based private equity firm previously aimed to pursue a public offering of A Twosome Place in May this year but changed its plans after Carlyle and other global investment firms showed keen interest in buying the brand.

As the new owner of A Twosome Place, Carlyle seeks to leverage its global network, its resources, and its consumer and retail industry expertise to strengthen the coffee chain’s brand and optimize its store footprint. The investment fund will be used to enhance the coffee brand’s product offerings and marketing capabilities.

“A Twosome Place has built a strong brand and positioning as a leader in South Korea’s premium cafe sector. We look forward to working with the CEO Yi Young-sang and his experienced management team to further build upon the strong franchise network and capture the significant white space in the Korean market,” said John Kim, managing director at Carlyle.

Carlyle had deployed more than $24 billion worth of equity in over 135 consumer and retail transactions globally as of end-September this year. It has invested in Korea for more than 20 years, partnering with local companies to drive business growth and value creation.

Its portfolios include $200 million worth of investment in Kakao Mobility this year and the formation of a strategic alliance with KB Financial Group to collaborate on new global investment opportunities.

It also established a strategic partnership with Korean Re, a Seoul-based reinsurance firm, to explore co-insurance opportunities, and sold its investment in ADT Caps, the second-largest security services provider in Korea, to SK Telecom and Macquarie in 2018.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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