S Korean start-up Woowa Bros lands $320m investment

SEOUL: The operator of South Korea’s largest food delivery app has secured a $320 million investment from Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital and GIC, it said on Thursday, in a deal that values the start-up at about $2.6 billion. Woowa Brothers Corp, which owns the “Baedal Minjok” food delivery service, said the cash will help drive expansion to overseas markets, and the development of autonomous robots. The investment was led by Hillhouse Capital, which had already invested 57 billion won ($50.7 million) in the firm in 2016, with equity participation by US-based Sequoia Capital and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Woowa Brothers said.
Launched in 2010, Baedal Minjok’s monthly orders grew from about 5 million in early 2015 to more than 20 million by July 2018, the company said. Woowa Brothers also expanded to offer delivery from restaurants that did not previously deliver, and a service for providing food and supplies to restaurants. Goldman Sachs invested 40 billion won ($35.6 million) in Woowa Brothers in 2014. Hillhouse Capital is an investor in top Chinese technology firms including Tencent and Baidu, while Sequoia Capital was an early investor in global tech behemoths like Google Inc and Apple Inc. Rigid regulations, strong labour unions and a risk-averse culture among South Korea’s giant family-run conglomerates, or chaebol, have hindered the growth of start-ups in Asia’s fourth-largest economy. — Reuters