Carlyle to invest US$200 million in Kakao Mobility
South Korean firm is largest mobility-as-a-service platform in the country
18 Feb 2021 | The Asset

Global investment firm The Carlyle Group, through its Carlyle Asia Partners V fund, has agreed to invest US$200 million in Kakao Mobility, the largest mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) platform in South Korea. The company was launched in 2015 as a business unit of Kakao Corp, an integrated mobile lifestyle platform company, and spun off in 2017. It now has 28 million registered users. 

Headquartered in Pangyo, South Korea, and with more than 500 employees, the company provides a wide range of mobility services through its Kakao T mobile-app platform, including taxi-hailing, designated driver, electric bike hire, parking, and navigation.  It is also developing its autonomous driving technology.

Technology and data analytics, an increase in app usage and ease of payment have significantly transformed the mobility services industry in recent years, and are expected to continue driving the growth of app-based ride-hailing penetration in the country, as well as other mobility services, according to Carlyle.

Kakao Mobility aims to leverage Carlyle’s industry knowledge and global network to expand into new businesses, pursue growth opportunities, and further invest in technology, while continuing to develop an integrated smart mobility platform.

Ryu Gung-seon, chief executive officer of Kakao Mobility, comments: “Our partnership with Carlyle will enable us to expedite our growth strategy for our smart mobility platform, which aims to create a more comfortable and convenient mobility experience for users.  As a leading mobility player, we will work with various companies in the mobility industry to build an ecosystem through our Kakao T platform by focusing on the customers and improving service quality.”

Carlyle has been investing in South Korea for more than 20 years, partnering with local companies to drive business growth and value creation.  Last year, Carlyle invested in KB Financial Group and formed a strategic alliance with the company to seek new investment opportunities in the country and overseas.

It has also established a partnership with Korean Re to explore co-insurance opportunities. The firm sold its investment in ADT Caps, the second-largest security services provider in South Korea, to SK Telecom and Macquarie in 2018.

Carlyle has more than two decades of experience investing in the technology sector, deploying more than US$24 billion globally.  Last year, its portfolio company ZoomInfo completed its initial public offering, which at the time was the largest public debut by a software company in a decade.