Vogo to buy into credit cards

Korean buyout fund Vogo Fund is poised to make an investment in BC Card, the country’s second largest credit card issuer, having signed an agreement with its largest shareholders.

Korean buyout firm Vogo Fund is looking to buy out the three largest shareholders of Korea’s largest credit card issuer, BC Card.

The newly established private equity firm has signed a memorandum of agreement with BC Card investors Woori Bank, Chohung Bank and Hana Bank to acquire their shares, according to The Korea Times.

The three institutions, among 11 banks that hold shares in BC Card, control a combined 59.4 percent stake.

Once the deal is complete, Vogo intends to add to its interest in the company by buying more shares from the remaining eight banks, according to the press report.

BC Card has 18 million card subscribers and 2.2 million member stores as of December 31, 2005.

Vogo Fund was last year established by Byeon Yang-ho, a former official of the Ministry of Finance and Economy. The group is in the process of marketing a private equity fund with a targeted close of $1.5 billion by end of this month.

Home-grown Korean private equity funds like Vogo are expected to assume the role of protecting management control of domestic companies from the ‘risk of hostile foreign acquisitions’, according to a separate article in The Korea Times.

“Home-grown private equity funds could take a role of a ‘white knight’ for a company under threat of a hostile takeover,’’ Jeon Hong-yul, a deputy governor of the Financial Supervisory Service, was quoted as saying in the article.

KT&G, the Korean tobacco company, is currently fighting hostile interest from foreign investor.