Vogo tops up investment in Korean bidet maker

The firm has invested an additional $20 million in Novita to take control of the company's core business. The investment is the firm’s last deal from the W500bn Vogo Fund.

South Korean buyout firm Vogo Fund has invested an additional sum of approximately $20 million in Novita, a Korean household appliance maker.

Cheonan-based Novita primarily manufactures electronic bidets, but other product lines include corded and cordless telephones, food waste disposals and humidifiers. The company booked revenues of about $70 million last year. 

Vogo Fund already held a 33 percent stake in Novita, which was acquired for $30 million in December 2006. The latest investment has seen the firm take control of the bidet-manufacturing business for a total of $50 million.

“We struck a deal where the 67 percent owner took 100 percent of Novita’s ancillary telephone business while Vogo Fund took 100 percent of the main business,” Jason Shin, managing partner and co-founder of Seoul-based Vogo, told PEI Asia in an interview

The electronic bidet is a fast growing, high margin sector. As the standards of living in Korea rise, the electronic bidet, once considered a luxury item is becoming more common, said Shin.

“In Japan, the electronic bidet’s household penetration rate is 70 percent, while in Korea, it is 30 percent. We foresee Korea reaching Japan’s penetration level over the next decade,” he added.

The additional investment in Novita was made around the same time as its investment in Korea’s biggest credit card company BC Card last month, Shin said. The two deals complete the investment of Vogo Fund, a W500 billion fund raised from domestic investors. Its sister fund, Korea Global, raised $120 million from overseas investors, and invests alongside Vogo Fund via a co-investment agreement.

Vogo Fund acquired a 30.7 percent stake in BC Card from Hana Bank and SC First Bank for W194.4 billion ($167 million; €112  million). The firm will acquire additional stakes in the company and intends to become a controller stakeholder by the end of 2009, Shin said at the time of the deal.

Vogo Fund’s previous investments include Tong Yang Life Insurance, digital multimedia device maker Reigncom and silicon wafer maker Siltron.