Category Archives: Regional Insights
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.
The Duke International Finance Forum featured one heavy hitter after another.
Billionaire private equity fund managers. Academics. Executives from global firms and growing Chinese corporations. They all gathered at Duke Kunshan University near Shanghai on the last weekend in April to discuss the rapidly-changing environment for cross-border investment in China and beyond.
“We need to adapt to the change of the times,” said Gao Xiqing, former president of China Investment Corporation, which manages more than $500 billion of China’s foreign currency reserves. Gao delivered the closing keynote for a weekend that featured a day of academic discussion and a day in which business leaders convened to offer their practitioners’ take on the present and future.
Our Fuqua East Asia regional team had a front row seat to listen to top thought leaders analyze China’s ‘New Normal’ of slowing economic growth.
We attended an American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai (AmCham Shangahi) session led by Dr. Yukon Huang, senior associate in the Carnegie Endowment’s Asia Program and former World Bank country director for China. In addition, we participated in a session hosted by the Economist Group’s Corporate Network.
Speakers at the events looked at China through three lenses—foreign policy, finance and economics, and business. Here are 10 takeaways and impactful comments from the sessions: