TOKYO, July 14 (Reuters) - Seoul-based private equity firm MBK Partners is planning to buy Japanese golf course operator Accordia Golf Co in a deal that could value the company as much as 160 billion yen ($1.5 billion), three people with direct knowledge of the matter told Thomson Reuters LPC.
In what would be one of Japan’s biggest private equity deals in recent years, the people told LPC, a loan-focused news service, that the country’s big three banks - Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group - are working on arranging senior loans worth 75 billion yen for MBK Partners to fund the deal.
As much as 35 billion yen of mezzanine finance may also be provided, the people said. They asked not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media about the planned acquisition, which includes debt.
Accordia is worth about 91 billion yen by market value on the Tokyo exchange, and had net debt of 57.7 billion as of March.
A spokesman for Accordia declined to comment. MBK officials contacted in Seoul and Tokyo declined to comment, while spokespeople for the three Japanese banks all declined to comment.
Accordia was set up by Goldman Sachs Group after it bought a series of golf course businesses in Japan that went bankrupt after the country’s sharp economic downturn in the early 1990s.
Goldman took the company public in 2006, selling its last holding in Accordia in 2011.
Accordia is 18.95 percent owned by investment fund Reno which is partly owned by Yoshiaki Murakami, a Japanese activist investor, as well as two other parties related to Murakami.
As of May the firm owned 43 golf courses nationwide, and managed an additional 93 golf courses.
In the fiscal year ended March, its net profit fell 9.2 percent to 5.46 billion yen, while revenue dropped 24 percent to 48.5 billion yen.
$1 = 104.6100 yen Reporting by Wakako Sato of LPC; Writing by Junko Fujita; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell