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A number of South Korean big-cap stocks are looking to press ahead again with what would be one of the largest public listings over the recent years in South Korea, as the country’s public initial offering (IPO) market starts to pick up in 2024.
According to sources familiar with the matter on Sunday, Seoul-based e-commerce company Kurly Inc. recently began planning for its second attempt at a public listing. The company is expected to come up with a preliminary prospectus as soon as the second half of 2024.
Kurly submitted IPO documents in a preliminary session in 2022 and won approval for its IPO in August that year. The e-commerce stock, however, abandoned its IPO in January 2023 amid a weaker-than-expected price outlook and sluggish market conditions. The company closed 250 billion won ($186 million) in a pre-IPO round from Anchor Equity Partners, a Hong Kong-based private equity firm, in December 2021.
Another company seeking a listing in 2024 is K bank, which began full-scale preparations for a listing. After sending out a request for proposal (RFP) to both Korean and global financial firms, the online bank now plans to appoint a designated underwriter to go public later in 2024.
K-bank won approval in a preliminary review in September 2022 but then suspended its listing plan in early 2023 due to sluggish market demand. However, the bank’s new chairman Choi Woo-hyung showed a strong commitment to the listing, saying, “We will make thorough preparations for the IPO, which is an opportunity for K-Bank to take another leap forward for our customers.”
Industry observers said the valuation of K bank was estimated at 6 to 8 trillion won.
Recent attempts at public listings have been driven by the upswing in the IPO market since December 2023, during which shares of LS Materials Co., KNS, and DS Dansuk experienced an increase of four times in their share price on the first day of listing.
But the industry remains skeptical about whether the upswing would be enough to support the coming public offerings by the multi-trillion-won worth of the stocks. Doosan Robotics Inc. was the sole big-cap stock to go public in 2023.
Sources said APR Corp., a high-cap stock set to go public in February 2024, is expected to serve as a barometer for performance of such large-scale IPOs during the year. The cosmetics manufacturer is undergoing a book-building session until February 8th, 2024, with the targeted price expected to range from 147,000 to 200,000 won per share.
By Oh Dae-seok and Han Yubin
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