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IPOs

Kurly, SSG.COM, Oasis fast-track 2022 IPO plans

Competition to go public heats up in the e-commerce industry as Kurly confirms its underwriters

By Oct 29, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Kurly has stepped up its local IPO application process, with underwriters and managers selected
Kurly has stepped up its local IPO application process, with underwriters and managers selected

Competition among South Korean e-commerce companies for initial public offerings is expected to get even fiercer next year. Kurly Inc., the operator of premium grocery delivery platform Market Kurly, is aiming for listing in the first half of 2022. SSG.COM, the e-commerce brand of Korean retail giant Shinsegae Inc., and another grocery delivery platform Oasis Corp., are also pushing for IPOs next year with corporate values in the trillions of won, or more than $850 million.

Kurly said on Friday that it has selected NH Investment & Securities Co. and Korea Investment & Securities Co. as its lead underwriters and JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the co-manager for its IPO. Kurly is under an audit process by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte Anjin LLC and plans to apply for its listing eligibility review later this year.

Kurly will apply for an IPO following a rule revision by the Korea Exchange announced in April, which relaxed listing requirements for a unicorn company valued at 1 trillion won ($854 million) to seek a Kospi listing even it doesn’t meet all the other financial requirements. Kurly will become the first K-unicorn to be listed if it succeeds in its IPO. Its corporate value is estimated at around 5 trillion won to 7 trillion won, securities industry sources say.

The food delivery platform has garnered attention as it launched in 2015 a so-called "dawn delivery service," delivering groceries before 7 a.m. if the order is placed before 11 p.m. the previous night. Kurly said more than 9 million customers have used its service while more than 71% of new customers become repeat users. Transactions on the platform reached over 1 trillion won last year and they aim to surpass 2 trillion won this year, according to the platform company.

Kurly halted its IPO process in August, about a month after it announced a U-turn back to a domestic listing after considering going public in the US. The unicorn sent requests for proposals (RFPs) to some major Korean brokerage houses including Mirae Asset Securities Co.Samsung Securities Co., Korea Investment & Securities Co. and KB Securities Co. As it received a proposal from just one of the houses, the company had to review its IPO plan. Investment banking sources said Kurly’s domestic listing plan was overshadowed by its biggest rival SSG.COM’s IPO plan at the time.

Kurly’s view on the listing plan is optimistic. “Although we have impaired capital due to valuation losses associated with preferred stocks, these preferred stocks will be converted to common shares leading to our total equity being the black. So, it won’t be an issue for the listing,” a Kurly official said.

RISING CORPORATE VALUES AMID COVID-19

SSG.COM is also accelerating its IPO preparation. On Oct. 27, the Shinsegae’s subsidiary selected Mirae Asset Securities and Citi Group Global Market Securities. Ltd. as the lead underwriters and chose Morgan Stanley & Co. and JPMorgan as co-managers for the listing. The e-commerce giant plans to go public next year after discussing the timing of the listing and the public offering size with the securities firms.

SSG.COM’s sales rose by 53.3% to 1.3 trillion won last year from 844.1 billion won in 2019, shortly after its launch in March 2019. Its operating loss reduced to 469 billion won from 81.8 billion won during the same period. The company is expected to improve its profitability as demand for online orders and deliveries continues to grow in the pandemic era.

The Shinsegae subsidiary was valued at 3.3 trillion won when Jakarta-headquarted investment firm Affinity Equity Partners Pte. Ltd. and California-based venture capital (VC) BlueRun Ventures invested a combined 700 billion won in the e-commerce company two years ago. The investment banking industry expects SSG.COM to be valued between 6 trillion won and 10 trillion won in the listing process.

SSG.COM was founded in late 2018 as a split-off from the online shopping unit of Korea's largest retailer E-mart Inc. After the split-off, it merged with Shinsegae Department Store and became an integrated e-commerce platform of the Korean conglomerate. E-mart and Shinsegae are the largest shareholders of SSG.COM, holding 50.1% and 26.9% stakes, respectively.

Another grocery delivery platform, Oasis Corp., also targets an IPO in the second half of next year. Oasis Market announced on Oct. 28 that it has attracted 10 billion won in investment, 5 billion won each from NH Investment & Securities and Korea Investment Securities -- the delivery platform’s two lead underwriters for the listing.

Write to Ye-Jin Jun and Jin-Seong Kim at ace@hankyung.com

Jihyun Kim edited this article.

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