GS Caltex joins a rush of investors in fast-evolving and IPO-eying Kakao Mobility

2021.07.26 15:06:05 | 2021.07.26 15:54:25

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GS Caltex Corp. became the latest to back the fast-driving and evolving Kakao Mobility Corp. whose value stretched to near $3.5 billion amid a rush of investors in the IPO-readying mobility company.

GS Caltex said Monday it invested 25 billion won ($21.7 million) and its parent GS Energy Corp. 5 billion won in Kakao Mobility for a combined 0.73 percent stake in the mobility offspring of Kakao Corp.

Based on equity relationship, GS Caltex and Kakao Mobility will combine gas station infrastructure with latest mobility technologies. GS Caltex operates some 23,000 gas stations and 370 LPG stations across Korea.

Kakao Mobility will also utilize the GS Caltex network as offline posts for easy car check-up and fueling services for partnering taxis.

Kakao Mobility and GS Caltex began their partnership in July 2020 by signing a deal to collaborate on the electric bicycle business. Since then, GS Caltex has added e-bike charging units at its gas stations for service to Kakao Mobility users.

The latest partnership with GS Caltex marks as only part of Kakao Mobility’s sprawling business and networking.

Kakao Mobility is said to be engaged in talks with Hwamulmaen and multiple other logistics companies that specialize in middle mile delivery, or transporting goods from a warehouse or distribution center to fulfilment facilities including retail stores, according to industry sources on Friday. The mobility platform operator is also said to have expressed interest in middle-mile logistics service start-up YLP in May.

A Kakao Mobility official said the company is eager in grooming the last mile service business such as same-day courier as well as middle mile sector with a long-term outlook. For now, the company is seeking to create synergy with existing players rather than directly jumping into the business, added the official.

Kakao Mobility has been actively expanding its transportation business under the themes of people, goods, and services.

In January, the company partnered up with Korea Railroad to offer a train ticket reservation service through its app. In March, it joined hands with local car wash and maintenance service providers for home care services for Kakao Mobility users. The company in June launched a pilot same-day courier service for small parcels.

Kakao Mobility has been aggressively expanding business to prop up its value before going public. The company is next in the line among the Kakao family after Kakao Bank and Kakao Pay who are joining the Kospi this year.

Kakao Mobility’s funding picked up this year after a hiatus since 2017 when it raised 500 billion won from a consortium led by global private equity firm TPG. It drew 220 billion won investment from Carlyle in February and 56.6 billion won from Google in March. It received an additional 130.7 billion won investment from the TPG consortium and 9.2 billion won from Carlyle in June. It also pulled in 100 billion won from LG.

The string of new investments reportedly has pushed up Kakao Mobility’s value to over 4 trillion won.

By Oh Dae-seok and Cho Jeehyun

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