Kakao Mobility, the mobility arm of South Korean internet giant Kakao, will raise $300 million from Carlyle Group ahead of its planned initial public offering, which could happen as early as next year.
The U.S. buyout firm entered into exclusive negotiations with Kakao Mobility, outbidding two other private equity investors. Talks are in the final stages, with John Kim, managing director of Carlyle, leading the deal himself, according to sources.
Carlyle will buy about 10% of Kakao Mobility in an investment that values the company at some 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion). This would mean that Kakao Mobility’s value has doubled since 2017, when it raised 500 billion won from investors, including Korea Investment Partners, California-based TPG Capital and Japan’s Orix.
Kakao Mobility operates Kakao T, the country’s biggest taxi-hailing app with a market share of 80%. Proceeds will be used to build liquidity, as the company continues to focus on its top-line growth through acquisitions of smaller players. It spent 76.2 billion won to buy taxi companies and taxi operating licenses last year.
The deal is expected to be announced in February. Kakao Mobility is being advised by investment bank UBS. (Reporting by Si-eun Park)