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Bond issues

Naver picks underwriters for first global bond sale

Mar 07, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Naver Chief Executive Han Seong-sook
Naver Chief Executive Han Seong-sook
Naver Corp., South Koreans’ largest online portal, has picked Morgan Stanley and Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities Co. to underwrite its first global bond issue, which market observers expect to raise more than $500 million in the first half of this year.

The company, the fourth-largest stock on the Korean main bourse, will speed up the global bond sale once the new debt is assigned credit ratings by global rating agencies, according to financial industry sources on Mar. 7.

The global bond issue will follow its domestic bond sale late last month in which it raised 700 billion won ($620 million), almost double its planned amount. The Korean bond was oversubscribed by more than three times.

In January, Naver said it planned to raise as much as 1.26 trillion won in domestic and overseas bond markets in the first half to finance its aggressive investment in entertainment platforms.

With a market capitalization of 62 trillion won, the online platform also has been sprawling into shopping, web contents and fintech businesses beyond web search.

In January, Naver announced the acquisition of Wattpad, the world's largest web novel platform based in Toronto, for 653.2 billion won, as well as the 412 billion-won purchase of a 49% stake in BeNX, a unit of the Big Hit Entertainment, a label behind the global boy band BTS. BeNX manages the K-pop online fan community platform Weverse.

Last month, the web portal announced a €115 million investment in Wallapop, a Spanish virtual marketplace, to gain a foothold in the growing European e-commerce market.

For fintech business, it has established Naver Financial with Mirae Asset Daewoo, while introducing same-day delivery services for e-commerce business, like the country’s retail giants such as Shinsegae and Coupang Corp.

Last year, Naver flagged its largest-ever earnings with 1.2 trillion won in operating profit on sales of 5.3 trillion won. Its share prices have spiked by nearly 30% year to date, far outperforming the broader Kospi's 5% advance during the period.

By Jin-Seong Kim

jskim1028@hankyung.com 

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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