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Kakao Bank makes IPO plans official

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea’s leading internet-only bank, Kakao Bank, made its market debut plans official as it decided to apply for auditor designation and select an underwriter by the end of this year, the company said Thursday.

But the company has not yet decided when or where to list its shares -- on the main bourse, Kospi, or the tech-heavy Kosdaq -- or on the size of the offering.

The company is expected to become the first online-only bank to be listed in the local stock market, and the second Kakao subsidiary to go public. Market sources expect the listing to go ahead as early as next year.

Founded in 2017, the internet-only bank recently posted capital of about 1.83 trillion won ($1.56 billion). While its assets came in at 24.4 trillion won as of end-June, its BIS level -- the proportion of a bank’s capital to its risk assets -- stood at 14.03 percent. It turned a profit for the first time in the first quarter of last year, when its net profit reached 13.7 billion won.

With the company’s official announcement, shares of Yes24, an online bookseller that holds 1.97 percent of shares in Kakao Bank, advanced 3.41 percent to close at 15,150 won. Until the early afternoon, Korea Investment Holdings also saw its stocks gain, up to 6.67 percent, but they fell slightly by 0.69 percent to 71,500 won at the closing bell. Korea Investment holds a 4.93 percent stake in the internet-only bank.

However, Kakao and Netmarble’s stocks moved downward throughout the day to close at 352,000 won and 167,500 won, respectively, losing 3.69 percent and 4.01 percent from the previous session. Kakao, operator of the messaging platform KakaoTalk, holds a majority stake of 33.53 percent, while Netmarble, a local mobile game powerhouse, owns 3.93 percent.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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