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Shinsegae now Korea’s No.2 e-commerce player with eBay Korea buyout

The US e-commerce company will keep a 20% stake in its Korean unit for portfolio optimization

By Jun 24, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Shinsegae now Korea’s No.2 e-commerce player with eBay Korea buyout

Shinsegae Group pushed through to be the sole winner in the prolonged race to acquire control of eBay Korea, making it a close runner-up in South Korea’s e-commerce sector currently led by Naver Corp.

According to investment banking sources, eBay Inc.’s US headquarters held a board meeting on June 24 to approve the sale of 80% of eBay Korea’s shares to Shinsegae Group's E-Mart Inc. for 3.44 trillion won ($3.04 billion).

The US e-commerce firm will be keeping the other 20% of its Korean unit’s shares.

“The deal brings together two strong e-commerce companies that can unlock tremendous potential in Korea and provide more choice for customers. This move further optimizes our portfolio and creates value for eBay shareholders,” said eBay CEO Jamie Iannone.

Sources report the two parties will sign a relevant share purchase agreement (SPA) on the same day at the earliest. Naver, which formed a consortium with Shinsegae for the acquisition, decided not to participate largely due to doubts over eBay Korea’s potential to create new synergies with its current platforms.

“Despite our decision this time, we will continue to implement strategies and actions in the e-commerce sector together with Shinsegae based on our strong business ties,” said Naver.

After this deal, Shinsegae will surpass Coupang as the number two e-commerce player in the country.

Shinsegae’s online platform SSG.COM posted transactions of 4 trillion won ($3.5 billion) last year, with only a 2.5% market share. But by adding eBay Korea, Shinsegae’s figure will rise to 24 trillion won ($21.2 billion), with a 15% share, surpassing Coupang's 22 trillion won ($19.4 billion) and just behind Naver’s 27 trillion won ($23.8 billion).

“Our eBay acquisition will not only reshuffle Korea’s e-commerce industry, but bring about a seismic change to the whole retail sector,” said E-mart CEO Kang Heui-seok.

SOURCES OF FUNDING & SCHEDULE MOVING FORWARD

The deal of 3.44 trillion won ($3.06 billion) marks the biggest business transaction ever made by Shinsegae Group. Analysts are paying close attention to how Shinsegae will be financing the acquisition.

Shinsegae’s E-Mart had 1.06 trillion won ($936 million) of cash and cash equivalents in the first quarter of 2021. In May, it raised another 682 billion won ($602 million) by selling one of its key branches located in Gayang-dong, Seoul.

Sources also say that the group is currently in talks to borrow as much as 2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) from domestic banks to fund the deal. Others say that Shinsegae may issue corporate bonds as well.  

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2021 or early 2022, subject to regulatory approval, said eBay in its release.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors to eBay, while Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Kim & Chang are its legal advisors.

Write to Chae-yeon Kim at why29@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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