SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) — South Korean e-commerce grocer Market Kurly said Friday it has decided to go public within this year and is exploring whether to make its stock market debut at home or in the United States.
“We received positive statements from our accounting consultants about going public within this year,” Market Kurly spokesman Song Cheol-wook said.
“We are open to all options,” he said, though he said the U.S. is not a fixed destination as debuting on the New York Stock Exchange would require much more analysis considering Market Kurly’s size compared with South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Inc.
Market Kurly’s annual transactions are estimated at about 1 trillion won (US$880 million) last year, considerably smaller compared with Coupang’s 20 trillion won.
On Thursday, Coupang made a splash in its landmark debut on the New York Stock Exchange, and its value stood at around $88.65 billion after its first closing at $49.25.
But the size of Market Kurly’s business providing overnight delivery of fresh foods, the firm’s signature sector, is on par with those of larger players, such as Coupang and SSG.com.
An IPO had been consistently ruled out from Market Kurly’s management options until Feb. 26, when the company’s chief Sophie Kim first disclosed her plan during a senior executive meeting.
Kim was cited as saying “we could lag behind in the market if we fail to go public within this year, since the local e-commerce market is reshuffled in favor of the big players.”
Kim’s comment came after e-commerce behemoth eBay Korea was put on sale in January and Coupang raised $4.6 billion in its U.S. stock exchange debut.
The merger and acquisition offer of eBay Korea particularly took the industry by surprise, as the company is South Korea’s largest open marketplace operator with major online shopping malls, including Gmarket, Auction and G9.
“Market Kurly executives want to complete the IPO process within 2021, considering the unusually ample liquidity in the stock markets and the company’s narrowing earnings deficit,” the firms’ spokesman said.