KKR more than doubles stake in Vietnam's Masan to $359 million

, Bloomberg

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Henry R. Kravis
Henry R. Kravis

KKR & Co. (KKR), the private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, will more than double its stake in a unit of Vietnam's Masan Group Corp. (MSN) to $359 million, its biggest investment in Southeast Asia.

The U.S. firm will invest an additional $200 million in Masan Consumer Corp., a Vietnamese fish sauce maker, the largest private-equity deal in the country, according to a joint statement Wednesday. KKR bought a 10 percent stake for $159 million in April 2011, its first acquisition in Vietnam.

KKR, which has $66 billion in assets, is betting Vietnam's young population and growing middle class will help it generate returns. The New York-based firm's consumer and retail investments in Asia include Oriental Brewery Co. in South Korea, China Modern Dairy Holdings Ltd. and India's Cafe Coffee Day.

"Doubling our investment in less than two years demonstrates our strong conviction in Vietnam's growth story," said Lu Ming, KKR's regional head for Southeast Asia, said in the statement. KKR said it will buy new and secondary shares of Masan Consumer, without revealing the size of the additional stake.

TPG Inc. and BankInvest, a Danish investment fund, bought a $50 million stake in Masan Group in October 2009. Mount Kellett Capital Management LP, a U.S. private equity group, said in January 2011 it spent $100 million for a 20 percent stake in Masan Resources, a unit of Masan Group that owns a tungsten mine in the country.

KKR, which set up its first office in Asia in 2005, employs almost 100 people in the region. It opened its seventh Asian office in Singapore in October as its headquarters for Southeast Asia. The firm is also raising a $6 billion Asian fund.

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