South Korea’s state lender Korea Development Bank (KDB) invested 100 billion won ($92 million) in Kakao Enterprise, helping the one-year-old IT platform provider under chat operator Kakao join the ranks of a unicorn with valuation of $1 billion.
Kakao Enterprise announced in a disclosure on Wednesday that it allocated 1,366,774 common shares to KDB at 73,165 won apiece. The latest third-party allotment raised the number of outstanding shares of the IT service unit to 15,467,616, bringing up its total corporate value to 1.1 trillion won.
Kakao Enterprise has become Kakao’s seventh unit whose value exceeds 1 trillion won. The company provides technology-based working platforms including corporate messenger Kakao Work and cloud service Kakao iCloud to businesses.
The investment is KDB’s largest scale-up funding, the company said. It added the state lender gave top scores for its technical skills, growth potential and capability in supporting companies’ digital transformation.
The company will use the proceeds to upgrade its existing businesses and develop new services. Since the foundation in December 2019, it has signed 16 business agreements with companies in various sectors including NH Investment & Securities, Everland, Kyobo Life Insurance, KBS and Commax to assist their digital transformation. The number of workplaces that adopted its messenger-based working platform Kakao Work surpassed 100,000 in three months since its launch in September last year.
“It is KDB’s biggest scale-up investment for a promising company in Korea,” said KDB Chairman Lee Dong-gull. “It is meaningful that the investment was made by domestic capital, and it is expected to give fresh impetus to local startups.”
“Kakao Enterprise will lead digital transformation efforts of entire businesses in Korea by using its innovative spirit and outstanding technologies,” said Kakao Enterprise CEO Baek Sang-yeop, adding that it will create a vast AI-based platform ecosystem in Korea that attracts best talents at home and abroad.
By Oh Dae-seok and Choi Mira
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