Starbucks said on Monday that it is selling its stake in its South Korea business to its operating partner there and an investor.
The Seattle-based coffee giant owns a 50% stake in Starbucks Coffee Korea Co. It is selling some of it—17.5% ownership—to E-Mart, which has been the company’s joint venture partner in the country since 1999, when Starbucks opened its first location there.
That will give E-Mart a controlling 67.5% interest in the market.
Starbucks is selling the remainder—32.5%--to GIC Private Limited, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.
South Korea is Starbucks’ fifth-largest market, with more than 1,500 stores in 78 cities and more than 18,000 employees.
Michael Conway, group president, international and channel development for Starbucks, said that local partners help the chain’s locations perform well in international markets.
He said that E-Mart and GIC “share Starbucks values and commitment to a positive experience for partners.” He said the company is confident in the two groups’ “ability to continue to elevate the Starbucks experience for customers” and identify opportunities to reach more customers.