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Naver invests €115 mn in Spain’s virtual marketplace Wallapop

By Feb 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Naver invests €115 mn in Spain’s virtual marketplace Wallapop

Naver Corp., South Korea’s top online portal, has invested €115 million in Wallapop, a Spanish virtual marketplace, as part of its efforts to gain a foothold in the growing European e-commerce market.

According to investment banking sources on Feb. 25, Naver made the investment through the K-Fund, run by French venture capital firm Korelya Capital, whose CEO is former French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin.

With the latest investment, which amounts to about 155.2 billion won, Naver will own slightly more than 10% of Wallapop, the sources said.

The amount of the stake purchase also marks Naver’s largest investment since its acquisition in 2017 of Xerox Research Center Europe, later renamed Naver Labs, for some 200 billion won.

Based in Barcelona, Wallapop, primarily accessed via mobile app, lets people resell their used items, or sell items such as crafts they make themselves -- something similar to Danggeun Market in Korea.

Founded in 2013, Wallapop has quickly become one of the four largest shopping apps in Spain, with its users accounting for about half of the country’s population.

Already a strong player in e-commerce and mobile apps, the stake purchase is in part a strategic investment for Naver, the company behind Asian messaging giant Line, among other digital properties.

Naver invests €115 mn in Spain’s virtual marketplace Wallapop

FOOTHOLD IN EUROPEAN E-COMMERCE MARKET

Analysts say the deal will give the Korean portal giant a foothold in the European e-commerce market.

Naver began investing in the European market in 2016 by becoming part of the K-Fund with its €200 million investment.

Naver has been expanding its investment in platforms to attract Gen Zers and millennials, together one of the largest groups using mobile and online apps.

Naver said last month that it is investing 411.8 billion won to acquire a 49% stake in BeNX, a Big Hit Entertainment Co. subsidiary that manages the K-pop online fan community platform Weverse.

Naver and Big Hit, the label behind K-pop sensation BTS, have been competing for the lead position in the K-pop fan community platform market, which has shown consistent growth.

Naver invests €115 mn in Spain’s virtual marketplace Wallapop

The Korean portal also announced in mid-January that it signed a 660 billion won deal to acquire a 100% stake in Wattpad, the world's largest web novel platform based in Toronto, in a move to beef up storytelling content for its entertainment operations. The deal marks Naver’s largest-ever investment in an external company.

Write to Joo-wan Kim at kjwan@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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