Chulmin Lee is a co-founder and managing partner at VIG Partners, a private equity firm in South Korea that invests in mostly mid-sized firms across multiple industries in the Korean market. A 2001 graduate of Fuqua’s Daytime MBA program, Lee is also president of the school’s Korean Alumni Association.
Lee shares some of his insights on the Korean economy and the investment challenges and opportunities in this Fuqua Q&A.
Describe the private equity climate in South Korea. What are the most exciting investment opportunities?
Private equity is a very young industry in Korea, one that has only been around since 1998, just after the Asian financial crisis. Market dynamics at that time were such that Chaebols (South Korean multinational business conglomerates) and other major local companies were swamped with bad debt and therefore looking to sell assets. The who’s who of the global private equity industry swooped into the market to take advantage of this opportunity. Everyone from TPG to Lone Star and Carlyle broke into Korea as the system lacked the necessary capital to push ahead. Then 2005 was another watermark year. That was when the Korean government established the legal frameworks for its own private equity industry.
China is in a funding boom for scientific research, but the country’s nascent intellectual property protections must grow stronger to foster innovation, business leaders told the 2016 Duke International Forum at Duke Kunshan University.
But while China has set up specialized courts to handle claims of copyright and trademark infringement – and is now home to the largest patent office in the world – it must do more to protect trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property if innovation is to take hold, experts said.
The 2016 Duke International Forum at Duke Kunshan University looked at innovation in China from every angle, including entrepreneurship, mergers and acquisitions, advances in scientific research and intellectual property protection.
China is seeking to shift its economic focus from manufacturing to innovation. It’s a huge undertaking but Tom Zhu, a 2010 graduate of the Daytime MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and general manager of Tesla China, said the sheer size of the Chinese market “will not just encourage domestic innovation, but also attract lots of advanced technology globally to this market. That will help us accelerate in the coming years and to excel in so many areas.”
Driven by an increasingly health-conscious population and fueled by government investment and a booming private sector, China’s health care sector is primed for innovative growth. That’s the view of Jesse Wu, former chairman of Johnson & Johnson China, who spoke at the 2016 Duke International Forum at Duke Kunshan University.
“China is poised to be a vital force in the global innovation scene, in particular in the area of health care,” Wu said. There are three factors, he said, that will drive the county’s ability to replicate its unprecedented manufacturing growth in the health care sector: significant demand among the populace; a firm government commitment; and growing private sector investments of financial and human capital.
Pakpoom Vallisuta presenting during the 2015 Duke University Asia Business Conference
Pakpoom Vallisuta is chairman of The Quant Group, a leading investment bank based in Thailand with a specific focus in mergers and acquisitions. Pakpoom spent the first five years of his career as a computer engineer and the last 27 years in investment banking, including almost 20 years with The Quant Group since he founded the company. He has an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and serves on the school’s Board of Visitors and East Asia Regional Advisory Board.
Pakpoom discusses his career journey, the state of the finance industry in Asia and what he looks for in new talent in this Fuqua Q&A.