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[Exclusive] Pre-IPOs

Korea’s leading e-book startups eye IPO in 2022

The e-book market leader Ridibooks and subscription-service pioneer Millie’s Library both aim for IPO by 2022

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

Millie’s Library is the pioneer that led the fast spread of e-book subscription services in Korea.
Millie’s Library is the pioneer that led the fast spread of e-book subscription services in Korea.

South Korea’s leading e-book platforms are targeting to go public next year.

The country’s subscription-based e-book service provider Millie’s Library has selected Mirae Asset Securities Co. as its underwriter for IPO in 2022, according to investment banking (IB) sources on June 25.

Millie’s is regarded as the industry’s pioneer that led the fast spread of the subscription service among Korean readers who previously preferred purchasing and owning e-books rather than subscribing. Millie’s currently boasts 3.5 million subscribers in the country.

The startup offers the largest selection of books among all e-book subscription services in Korea with more than 100,000 books. Millie’s, established in 2016, will be the first e-book platform to be listed in the local stock market.

The IB industry says that Millie’s is currently valued at around 100-150 billion won ($89-133 million). It made an operating loss of 4.9 billion won ($4.3 million) on revenue of 19.2 billion won ($17.1 million) last year.

Millie’s so far has raised a total investment of 30 billion won ($26.6 million). Some of its key investors include HB Investment, Korea Investment Partners, STIC Ventures, KB Investment and Kolon Investment.

MARKET LEADER RIDIBOOKS CONSIDERS US IPO

The industry also expects the country’s long-time leader in the e-book market, Ridibooks, to also go public by next year. The company had selected Korea Investment & Securities Co. in 2019 as its IPO underwriter.

Unlike Millie’s Library, Ridibooks generates a large portion of its revenues from e-book sales in addition to its monthly subscription service.

The market leader Ridibooks offers a wide range of services from webtoons, web novels to e-books.
The market leader Ridibooks offers a wide range of services from webtoons, web novels to e-books.

According to the IB industry, the e-book market leader’s goal is to reach a valuation of more than 1 trillion won ($886 million) before going public. Its latest valuation stood at 520 billion won ($461 million) last month when it raised another 8 billion won ($7 million) of investment.

Some media reports say that Ridibooks, in contrast to its subscription-oriented industry peer Millie’s, is considering the option to go public in the US stock market. Ridibooks’ revenue last year was 155.5 billion won ($137.8 million), about eight times that of Millie’s.

Last year, Ridibooks also reported its first full-year operating profit since its foundation in 2009, earning 2.5 billion won ($2.2 million).

Write to Jong-woo Kim at jongwoo@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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