eBay Korea race draws high-profile names from IT, retail and PEF

2021.03.04 14:36:24 | 2021.03.04 15:12:21

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Big names from IT, retail and PEF jumped into the race after eBay Korea LLC,, among the top three e-commerce players in Korea, at a time market leader Coupang gains fresh ammunition of $3.6 billion and valuation of near $50 billion through IPO in New York.

Potential bidders lead sale managers Morgan Stanley and Goldman have sent out invites to include high-profile names Kakao, Shinsegae, and private equity funds KKR, Carlyle, and MBK Partners, according to investment industry sources on Wednesday.

Global e-commerce giant eBay Inc. will receive preliminary tenders for its Korean unit in mid-March and draw up a shortlist by the month’s end, the sources said.

eBay Korea is a leading online marketplace provider in Korea that operates Gmarket, Auction, and G9. Annual gross merchandise value (GMV), or the total value of items sold on its marketplaces, amount to 20 trillion won ($19 billion), putting the corporate value at a minimum of 5 trillion won.

Kakao and Shinsegae are most eager for a leap into the e-commerce market, dominated by three – Coupang, Naver, and eBay.

Shinsegae is a retail giant but late in online migration. According to data by WiseApp and Kyobo Securities, the retail group’s online shopping unit SSG.com recorded a modest GMV of 3.9 trillion won last year compared with industry leaders and smaller than 7.6 trillion won made by the online operation of Lotte, its offline rival.

If it wins eBay Korea, it could leapfrog to No. 2 after Coupang whose GMV is estimated at around 22 trillion won to 24 trillion won.

Kakao, a bulldozer in the M&A scene, poses as a formidable contestant as it has been increasing speed to catch up with its online competitor Naver. Kakao’s e-commerce business, maintaining robust growth with a double-digit operating margin, logged a GMV of 3 trillion won.

Capital-rich MBK Partners and other private equity funds also won’t likely yield easily, given the big money in the burgeoning e-commerce market.

Seoul-based MBK Partners acquired big-box chain Homeplus and is eager to bolster its retail portfolio.

By Jin Young-tae, Kim Tae-sung, Kang In-seon, and Cho Jeehyun

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