Yulchon finished 2015 with a string of deals worth trillions of Korean Won amid a sprightly year in the Korean M&A market, which saw the closing of some of the country’s largest transactions. Of the 10 deals worth more than W1 trillion ($828 million) each in 2015, Yulchon closed six, which enabled the firm to secure its position as the go-to firm for large-scale M&A transactions.
Yulchon’s work included on Asia’s largest ever leveraged buy-out transaction and Korea’s largest ever M&A transaction (MBK Partners’ acquisition of Homeplus):
- MBK Partners-led consortium’s acquisition of Homeplus, the Korean retail business unit of Tesco Group;
- Hahn & Co. and Hankook Tire’s acquisition of Halla Climate Control;
- the sale of POSCO Engineering & Construction to an overseas private equity firm;
- Divestment of KT Rental to Lotte Group;
- Hanwha Chemical and Hanwha Energy’s acquisition of Samsung General Chemical; and
- the sale of Lotte Rental Co.
Such transactions meant Yulchon rose up the domestic league tables in a number of leading business media such as The Korea Economic Daily, Yonhap Infomax and The Bell. The firm’s M&A team is also representing Mirae Asset Global Investments in its acquisition of KDB Daewoo Securities which is worth more than W2 trillion ($2.02 billion). The transaction is expected to close the deal later this year.
All five of the transactions mentioned above that closed in 2015, ranked among the biggest for deal value out of the nine total megadeals that closed last year, as reported by leading domestic business media: The Korea Economic Daily and The Bell. According to these publications, though Yulchon worked on only half the number of M&A transactions as Kim & Chang, their value was W15.67 trillion compared to Kim & Chang’s W9.51 trillion. This marked the first time Yulchon led the M&A field with the highest average value per deal among the top five full service law firms in Korea.
Yulchon puts its transactional success down to its revamp of its M&A group in 2015. Hee Woong Yoon, a 15-year veteran of M&A, finance, and securities, and head of the corporate & finance group, became head of the M&A practice in order to expand the firm’s reach into larger scale M&A transactions. Partners Jin Kook Lee and Jae Hyun Park both oversaw the closing of the firm’s landmark deals including work on Tesco, Lotte Rental, KDB Daewoo Securities, Pan Ocean, and the initial public offering (IPO) of Lotte Home Shopping.
In a 2015 comparative analysis report of Korea’s top five law firms conducted by Market Insight, a capital markets-focused publication of The Korea Economic Daily, Jin Kook Lee came out as no 1 in its Power Attorneys category based on the eight deals worth a total of W8.8168 trillion he had carried out. The firm strengthened its deep M&A roster in 2015 when Anthony Chung-In Kim, a US attorney formerly with Kim & Chang and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York joined.