MBK Partners founder Kim Byung-ju/Courtesy of MBK Partners

Chairman Kim Byung-ju rises to 23rd spot in wealth list

Amid the trade war between the United States and China, export-driven Korea struggled over the past year. As a result, the country’s wealthiest’ fortunes dropped substantially this year, according to the Forbes.

But there are exceptions like MBK Partners Chairman Kim Byung-ju, otherwise known as Michael Kim or Michael Byungju Kim. He saw his wealth soar almost 60 percent to $1.5 billion from a year ago.

Now, the founder of Korea’s biggest private equity fund is the nation’s 23rd wealthiest businessman even ahead of CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin.

The two tycoons’ wealth amounted to $1.43 billion and $870 million, respectively.

Kim first made it to the Forbes top 50 list in 2016 and ranked 43rd last year.

Kim, who studied at Harvard University, founded MBK Partners that bears his initials in 2005.

Thereafter, the Seoul-based hedge fund has chalked up fast growth through a series of large-sized M&A deals.

For example, MBK poured more than $6 billion to acquire Home Plus, Tesco’s Korean operation, in 2016. Back then, it was the country’s largest M&A contract ever.

The country’s financial regulator said that MBK Partners had capital commitment worth $8.22 billion as of the end of last year to become a runaway leader in the business.

Kim is married to Park Kyung-ah, the youngest daughter of the late Prime Minister Park Tae-joon, who also established the country’s largest steelmaker POSCO.

She originally tied the knot with Jeon Jae-yong, the second son of former President Chun Doo-hwan, but got married to Kim after separation with Jeon. Jeon’s second wife is actress Park Sang-ah.

In the meantime, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee remained atop the wealth list with $16.8 billion followed by Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin with $7.4 billion and Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju with $6.3 billion.


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The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.