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Kakao mulls relisting on main bourse

Kakao, the second-largest company by market cap on the second-tier Kosdaq, is mulling moving to the main bourse Kospi, according to the firm Thursday.

“Listing on the Kospi is one option we are considering, but nothing has been fixed,” read a statement on the disclosure. This came in response to the market operator Korea Exchange’s request to clarify relevant rumors on the relisting that had been spreading.

Kakao, the operator of the nation’s largest mobile messenger KakaoTalk and web portal Daum, added it will determine whether to delist itself from the Kosdaq within a month. 

The Korea Exchange expressed concerns the move could dampen the government-led move to bolster startups and mid-sized companies listed on the tech-heavy Kosdaq.

Kakao would become the 43rd-largest on the benchmark Kospi if listed, which bodes well for the tech firm’s reported aim to get a better valuation, especially among foreign investors.

“If Kakao‘s stock price does not significantly drop for 15 days from the day of listing on Kospi, Kakao will probably be included in the Kospi 200 Index-based exchange-traded fund,” Lee Joong-ho, a researcher at Yuanta Securities Korea, said Friday.

Kakao’s market cap reached 6.15 trillion won, the second-highest among firms on Kosdaq, following biosimilar maker Celltrion at 11.17 trillion won.

Kakao reached its intraday high at 91,900 won ($80.91) Friday morning, but closed at 90,000 won, down 0.88 percent from the previous day.

Kakao’s contemplation represents the struggle of the Kosdaq-listed tech firms to draw foreign investors’ attention to the stock market, which aimed at following in the footsteps of the US’ Nasdaq in its foundation, experts say.

“Firms listed on the Kosdaq seem to feel increasingly alienated,” said Park Hee-jung, head of research at Kiwoom Securities. “Export-oriented firms on the Kospi saw stock prices soar starting late last year, but Kosdaq firms remained unaffected.”

“To foreign investors’ perspective, the clout of Korean stock market in the world is limited, resulting in their limited attention to Korean market, focusing mainly on large-scale shares in the top-tier stock market,” said Koo Yong-wook, an analyst at Mirae Asset Daewoo.

Some 40 firms, including web portal operator Naver, travel agency Hanatour Service, full-service carrier Asiana Airlines and mobile carrier LG Uplus have relisted themselves on the Kospi from the Kosdaq since 2000.

Once Kakao decides to delist itself from the Kosdaq in a board meeting, it will undergo an abridged listing procedure. A rule by the Financial Services Commission implemented in April 2014 allows a formerly Kosdaq-listed firm to go through a 20-day screening process to verify its business stability, 25 days shorter than normal.

By Son Ji-hyoung (
Korea Herald daum