[THE INVESTOR] Two firms funded by PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel have recently sold off their stake worth about US$72 million in Korea’s Hanmi Semiconductor.
According to regulatory filings on Jan. 15, Crescendo Equity Partners and CEP Semicon Holdings sold a combined 647,189 shares worth about 76 billion won (US$71.50 million) between Dec. 22 and Jan. 8. Following the sell-off, their stake in Hanmi has decreased to 8.81 percent from 9.83 percent.
In July 2016, they purchased convertible bonds worth 37.5 billion won issued by Hanmi, investing 75 billion won and 300 billion won, respectively. Then in December last year, they exchanged almost half the bonds for 3.12 million common stocks.
It is rare for a shareholder with almost 10 percent stake to offload during trading sessions, and not through a block deal to a specific buyer, because the sale could affect the share price directly. Since Dec. 22, Hanmi’s stock price has decreased by about 4 percent.
A Hanmi official told the Korea Economic Daily that the two firms are likely to use the newly secured funds to pay back some loans they borrowed to purchase the company’s stake.
“It may have been difficult for them to find a buyer for a block deal considering stocks of semiconductor equipment makers are struggling overall,” the official said. “There would be no more stake sale by Thiel.”
Crescendo is a private equity fund founded by the PayPal co-founder and one of the most influential venture capitalists in Silicon Valley in 2012. The firm has invested heavily in high-tech firms in Korea in recent years, including 50 billion won in Hancom, an office suite software developer; 20.3 billion won in Seojin System, an aluminum case maker for telecom equipment; and 37 billion won in Hanmi. Following its first 200 billion won funding, the firm is seeking a new equivalent funding currently. Its internal rate of return was 39 percent in the first round funding.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)