South Korean retailer E-Mart has agreed to acquire an additional 17.5% interest in Starbucks Korea, making it the majority shareholder in the coffee chain’s South Korean operations.
Starbucks is to sell its 50% ownership in its South Korean business, meaning E-Mart will hold a 67.5% total share in the business.
Starbucks will also sell its remaining ownership share to an affiliate of Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund GIC. Once the sale is completed, GIC will hold a 32.5% stake in the business.
The business transition is expected to close over the next 90 days. There will be no significant changes in the business, as E-Mart will continue to operate Starbucks Korea.
E-Mart executive vice-president TJ Hyung said: “Starbucks and E-Mart have had many conversations on how we can continue to grow the Starbucks brand in the market, which led to this decision.
“This transaction is the result of the strong performance and partnership we have achieved together over the past 20 years.
“E-Mart will continue to enhance the customer experience and social value that Starbucks has been creating, with a new partner GIC as well as Starbucks.”
Starbucks International and Channel Development group president Michael Conway said: “E-Mart and GIC share Starbucks’ values and commitment to [providing] a positive experience for partners and have been recognised for their commitment to community stewardship.
“Starbucks is confident in E-Mart and GIC’s ability to continue to elevate the Starbucks Experience for customers and identify unique opportunities to reach more customers throughout this important market.”
South Korea is currently Starbucks’ fifth largest market, with the company operating more than 1,500 stores across 78 cities in the country as of last December.
The brand opened its first South Korean outlet near Ewha Womans University in Seoul in 1999.
Last month, E-Mart agreed to buy an 80.01% stake in eBay Korea for around KRW3.44tn ($3.0bn).