Korean pension fund invests in smoothies

Featured - July 10th, 2012

South Korea’s cultural wave will take on the form of healthy smoothies to compete against caffeinated drinks, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.

Standard Chartered PLC’s private-equity unit and Korea’s National Pension Service will make a joint investment worth $45.5 million for a 48% share in Smoothies Korea Inc.

The Korean fruit-blended beverage maker has 100 company-owned and franchised stores since it set up in 2003, and is rapidly growing domestically. It plans to compete with the likes of Starbucks in the cafe market, underlining the importance of being health-conscious in Korea.

Smoothies Korea also plans to buy out a American company, New Orleans-based Smoothie King, which has 529 stores in the US, and expand into new markets in China and Singapore. Smoothies Korea hopes its venture abroad will be as successful as other Korean food and beverage brands, such as Paris Baguette and Red Mango, with stores in US, China, Singapore, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Smoothies Korea could follow California-based Jamba Juice, which has expanded internationally.

The deal is a signal to other foreign private-equity investors of the potential market in South Korea with a “solid and safe base”, according to Standard Chartered executive Charles Huh.