Advantage makes $20m consumer electronics bet

The Japanese firm has made its second investment of the year, backing China's Hisense Broadband Multimedia Technologies.

Advantage Partners will pay $20 million for a “significant minority stake” in a Qingdao-based maker of components for home electronics devices.

The firm is investing in Hisense Broadband Multimedia Technologies (HBMT) via its $1.9 billion fourth fund, which closed in 2007 and is roughly 50 percent deployed, according to Emmett Thomas, partner at the firm’s Hong Kong office.

HBMT was founded in 2002 by Hisense Group, a multibillion dollar global conglomerate in the multimedia, home appliances, telecommunications and information technology areas.

The company began operations in 2003 as the set top box business unit within the Hisense Electric Company, the division of Hisense that produces flat panel television receivers. Ligent Photonics and Hisense Optoelectronics, a joint venture created by Hisense, was established in 2002. In 2008 the set top box business unit of HEC and Ligent Photonics merged to form HBMT.

Earlier this year, Advantage purchased Guam telecommunications provider TeleGuam, which it acquired for an undisclosed amount from Shamrock Capital.

Although both the firm’s most recent deals had taken place outside of Japan, Advantage will continue to have a pipeline focused on Japan, Thomas said.

Advantage has also made several recent exits. In March, the firm sold supermarket chain Seijo Ishii to Marunouchi Capital, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsubishi UFJ Securities Holdings. Details of that transaction remain undisclosed, but according to a Nikkei report, Marunouchi offered more than ¥40 billion (€352.3 million; $486.8 million) to acquire the supermarket chain.

In January, it sold all shares of Red Lobster Japan to Tokyo-based restaurant operator CELUX for an undisclosed amount and a month later, it exited its holdings in beverage group Pokka alongside Hong Kong's CITIC Capital to trade buyer Sapporo Holdings. 

But it has not all been smooth sailing for the firm; in May, it reportedly agreed to hand over its ownership in Tokyo Star Bank to Lone Star Funds and other creditors after failing to find investors for the troubled Japanese lender.