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South Korean food delivery startup Woowa Bros lands $320 million investment

SEOUL (reuters) – The operator of South Korea’s largest food delivery app, has secured a $320 million investment from Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital, and GIC, said on Thursday, in a deal that values the startup at about $2.6 billion.

FILE PHOTO: People eat fried chicken in a pub in Seoul, South Korea, October 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Photo File

Woowa Brothers Corp, owner of the “Baedal Minjok” meal-delivery service, said the money will help the expansion of overseas markets, and the development of autonomous robots.

The investment was led by Hillhouse Capital, which already invested 57 billion won ($50.7 million) in the company in 2016, with participation by the U.S.-based Sequoia Capital and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, Woowa Brothers said.

Launched in 2010, Baedal Minjok, monthly orders have grown from approximately 5 million in the beginning of 2015 more than 20 million by July 2018, the company said.

Woowa Brothers also expanded the delivery of restaurants that previously did not provide, and a service for providing food and supplies to restaurants.

Goldman Sachs has invested 40 billion won ($35.6 million) in Woowa Brothers in 2014.

Hillhouse Capital is an investor in the top Chinese technology companies such as Tencent and Baidu, while Sequoia Capital was one of the first investors in global tech giants such as Google Inc, Apple Inc.

Rigid regulations, strong trade unions and a risk-averse culture between the South-Korean giant family-run conglomerates, or chaebol, have hindered the growth of the start-ups in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

But international investors were attracted to companies that appear in the market for the fast delivery services in South Korea.

In November, SoftBank, the Vision of the Fund said that it will invest an additional $2 billion in South Korea’s top e-commerce company Coupang.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Jan Harvey

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