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[Exclusive] Pre-IPO funding

Market Kurly raises another $200 mn at a $2 bn valuation

Analysts see this round of funding as a shrewd move by the startup in preparing for a successful IPO

By Jun 01, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Market Kurly raises another 0 mn at a  bn valuation

The valuation of Kurly Inc. has now surpassed 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion).  

The operator of South Korea’s online grocery and gourmet food delivery service Market Kurly has recently raised 220-230 billion won ($199-208 million) from its existing shareholders including DST Global, Sequoia Capital and Aspex Management, according to the investment banking (IB) industry on June 1.

Sources say that this round of funding raises the company’s valuation to around 2-2.4 trillion won ($1.8-2.2 billion), more than double that of April last year when it was valued at around 1 trillion won ($0.9 billion) after the Series E funding.

Regarded as the pre-IPO funding, this round will close within the first few weeks of June. No new investor is reported to have participated in this round.

DIFFERING VIEWS ON KURLY’S UNICORN VALUATION

Not all industry watchers have positive views on Kurly’s unicorn valuation.

Some highlight that the startup is still in the red after years of operation, having posted an operating loss of 116.3 billion won ($104.9 million) in 2020, greater than its loss of 101.3 billion won ($91.4 million) in 2019.

While its rival Coupang Corp. also recorded an operating loss of 550.4 billion ($497 million) won last year, the figure was significantly lower than that of 2019 at 720.5 billion won ($650.7 million).

Moreover, Kurly’s aggregate loss since its foundation in 2014 also amounts to around 270 billion won ($243.8 million).

KURLY’S NEEDS & INVESTORS’ THOUGHTS

Investment banking analysts say that Kurly implemented the recent round of funding to quell speculation around overvaluation before moving on with the IPO process.

“It wouldn’t have been easy for Kurly to gain a multi-trillion won valuation in the IPO, granting that its most recent valuation was only around 1 trillion won ($0.9 billion). Kurly must have thought it needed to ramp up its valuation prior to the IPO,” said an IB industry official.   

Others say that this investment round is more about raising shareholder value for existing investors.

“This round seems to be a good deal for the existing investors, or rather a good set-up to reassure them, who must now be thinking that although they are currently paying a high price, they can hit the jackpot following the IPO,” said another official from the IB industry.

Write to Jong-woo Kim and Jun-ho Cha at jongwoo@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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