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Mirae Asset Financial Group Chairman Park Hyeon-joo/Courtesy of Mirae Asset

Charismatic entrepreneur leads global rise of Mirae Asset

This is the second of a series highlighting best-performing chief executives in Korea. _ ED.

Korea is a country where family-owned conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai dominate its economy. Mostly established in the mid-20th century, their leaders are offspring of their founders.

In other words, Asia’s No. 4 economy has hardly seen new entrepreneurs in the 21st century outside of the online and mobile game businesses.

Yet, there is one major exception of Mirae Asset Financial Group Chairman Park Hyeon-joo, who catapulted the outfit to become the country’s business bellwether over the past two decades.

Under his stewardship, Mirae Asset has chalked up ultra-fast growth since its launch in 1997. Chairman Park spearheaded financial innovation by introducing the nation’s first closed-end mutual fund the next year.

Now operating in more than 10 countries, Mirae Asset has almost $100 billion in assets under management.

The Seoul-based group also has such flagship units under its wing as Mirae Asset Global Investments, Korea’s top-tier asset management firm, and Mirae Asset Daewoo, the country’s foremost brokerage house and investment bank.

Chairman Park himself is one of the richest businessmen here. According to the Forbes, his wealth amounts to $1.61 billion this year.

This means that he is wealthier than such tycoons as Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin, CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun, and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin.

Lee Boo-jin is the eldest daughter of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

Global M&As

Mirae Asset has been proactive in cross-border M&As as amply demonstrated by its brisk moves in 2019 alone.

Earlier this year, a global consortium headed by Mirae Asset Daewoo channeled around $1 billion to acquire the Tour Majunga, the fourth-tallest building in France.

The deep-pocketed brokerage came to town after mergers between Mirae Asset Securities and Daewoo Securities in late 2016. Thereafter, it has tried to expand the business horizon in overseas markets.

In this June, Mirae Asset Global Investments signed a contract to sell an office tower in Frankfurt’s banking district at 400 million euros, two years after it bought the property named Taunusanlage 8.

Chairman Park seems to be still thirsty for bigger M&As as Mirae Asset strives to take over a portfolio of 15 U.S. luxury hotels owned by China’s Anbang Insurance Group.

Mirae Asset is a strong candidate to acquire the portfolio, which is valued at $5.5 billion. The deal, if completed, would be the biggest cross-border real estate investment by a Korean company.

On the back of snowballing assets, Mirae Asset has been on a shopping spree of overseas property over the past several years, and its major targets have been luxury hotels.

In 2013, Mirae Asset spent $306.8 million to snap up the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. It invested more than $1 billion between 2015 and 2016 to gobble up three U.S. hotels including Fairmont San Francisco Hotel and Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa.

Last year, it made debt investments of $95 million in Las Vegas Cosmopolitan Hotel.

It also owns the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, which opened midway through 2015.

 

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