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Korea’s IPO subscription rate jumps 2.7 times in 2 years amid stock market rally

No. of small shareholders of 2,041 listed firms surges nearly 80%

The book-building competition rate of initial public offerings in South Korea has intensified lately, as scores of investors with a growing appetite for expanding financial assets and abundant liquidity have flocked to make deposits for retail subscriptions, data showed Wednesday.

Fueled by a recent bull run from the pandemic-hit market, new shares for IPOs were 1,376.9 times oversubscribed on average during retail tranches in the first half of this year, compared with 509.2 times in 2019, according to local corporate tracker CEO Score. The data was based on 647 locally listed firms that launched IPOs in the past decade.

Compared to 2011, the average subscription rate from retail investors had soared more than threefold from 438.7-to-1.

The number of small shareholders of 2,041 locally listed companies also surged to some 44.9 million as of end-2020, up nearly 20 million or 79.6 percent, from a year ago, the data showed.

NBT, the developer behind mobile advertising app Cash Slide, marked the highest book-building competition rate of 4,398-to-1 before going public on the country’s tech-heavy market in January. It was followed by other Kosdaq-listed firms Xiilab and Yiruda with 3,990.6-to-1 and 3,039.6-to-1, respectively.

By amount of proceeds raised through IPOs, game firm Netmarble stood at No. 1 with some 2.66 trillion won ($2.31 billion). It was trailed by Samsung Biologics and SK ie technology at 2.25 trillion won each, followed by Cheil Industries -- prior to its merger with Samsung C&T -- with 1.52 trillion won. SK Bioscience also raked in nearly 1.5 trillion won.

Cheil Industries attracted the most subscription bids, worth 485.2 trillion won ahead of its main board listing in December 2014. Samsung SDS (484.36 trillion won), SK ie technology (162.65 trillion won), SK Bioscience (128.35 trillion won) and Hybe (117.52 trillion won), formerly known as Big Hit Entertainment, also drew hundreds of billions of won from investors.

Meanwhile, the domestic IPO market is expected to flourish in the second half with blockbuster-scale deals. Analysts said the market is gearing up for a record year with the most yearly subscription bids and IPO proceeds combined.

Video game developer Netmarble Neo, battery maker LG Energy Solution and Hyundai Heavy Industries have submitted preliminary applications for their IPOs to the Korea Exchange. Other mega deals such as Krafton, KakaoBank, Kakao Pay and SD Biosensor are anticipated to go public in the latter half.

By Jie Ye-eun (