[THE INVESTOR] L Catterton Asia, a global private equity firm backed by French luxury fashion house LVMH Group, has inked a new partnership deal with Gentle Monster, a Korean sunglass and eyewear brand that is enjoying huge popularity in Asia, especially China.
The company's chairman and managing partner Ravi Thakran on Sept. 7 confirmed the deal that would make it the second-largest shareholder in the Korean firm. He declined to reveal the exact size of the investment but sources predict about 60 billion won (US$53 million) has been newly invested.
In March, L Catterton acquired a sizeable stake worth an estimated 200 billion won (US$177 million) in Gentle Monster’s parent company IICOMBINED, formerly Snoop Buy.
“We are not in a hurry for the firm’s IPO,” Thakran told The Investor on the rumored stock debut of the parent company.
“The Gentle Monster’s management is busy for growth now.”
Gentle Monster, launched in 2011 with an initial capital of 50 million, has grown into a leading sunglass brand with attractive designs and competitive pricing. Buoyed by its upbeat overseas sales, IICOMBINED has been preparing for a listing on the local stock market for higher valuation.
Thakran dismissed any concerns about diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Beijing affecting the brand’s business expansion in China negatively, saying Gentle Monster is already one of the top three sunglass brands in China.
“I don’t think declining tourists is an issue for a best brand like this,” he said, hinting at the brand’s possible collaboration with other LVMH brands in the near future. “If you have a best brand, people would go and look for them.”
L Catterton, formed in 2016 through the partnership of Catterton, LVMH and Groupe Arnault, has been increasingly purchasing stakes in Korean companies in recent years, including US$80 million in YG Entertainment in 2014 and US$50 million in Clio, a cosmetics maker, in 2016.
Thakran said he is also looking at more investment opportunities in Korea, pinpointing tourism retail and wellness businesses as his key interests.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)