Tom Huddleston Jr.

KKR & Co., Inc., and Masan Group Corporation--one of Vietnam"s largest private sector companies--announced Wednesday that KKR has agreed to pay $159 million for a 10 percent equity stake in Masan subsidiary Masan Consumer Corporation.

The deal allows KKR, the private equity firm run by investor Henry Kravis, to invest in a company that ranks as Vietnam"s biggest producer of fish sauce and also makes chili sauce and instant noodles. Once completed, the transaction--which values Masan Consumer at $1.6 billion--will be KKR"s first investment in Vietnam and the largest private equity deal ever in the Asian nation.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is advising longtime client KKR on the transaction, with Hong Kong corporate partner Kathryn King Sudol leading the firm"s efforts. Joining her is tax partner Katharine Moir and M&A senior associate Ian Ho.

The firm often takes a role in KKR transactions. For instance, Sudol advised KKR on its $3 billion acquisition of the Yellow Pages Group from Bell Canada in 2004. Most recently, Simpson Thacher advised KKR earlier this month when the company snagged Pfizer Inc"s Capsugel unit in a $2.38 billion deal. (KKR"s general counsel, David Sorkin, is a former Simpson Thacher partner.)

Ho Chi Minh City-based firm Vilaf-Hong Duc is also advising KKR. Partners Vo Ha Duyen and Tran Anh Duc advised from that firm, according to Sudol.

Meanwhile, local Vietnamese counsel for Masan was provided by YKVN, led by partner Truong Nhat Quang, according to Sudol.

Under this agreement, Masan Consumer would issue 14 million shares to KKR, while decreasing Masan Group’s ownership stake from 86.6 percent to 78 percent. Masan has been raising capital over the past two years and hopes to expand into other sectors of the consumer goods market.

Vilaf