WASHINGTON, March 11 (Yonhap) — South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Inc. made a splash in its landmark debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday at an initial public offering price of US$35 each.

The IPO price is higher than an earlier proposed range of $32 to $34.

With 130 million shares offered, Coupang raised $4.6 billion in public offering. According to Yahoo Finance data, the company’s value stood at around $88.65 billion after its first closing, making it one of the most valuable startups in the United States.

Coupang shares began trading at $63.5 per share, up 81.4 percent from the IPO price, and closed up 40.71 percent at $49.25. Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.58 percent.

This photo, provided by Coupang Inc., shows the company’s corporate logo displayed on the electronic boards of the New York Stock Exchange dealing room on March 11, 2021, to celebrate the e-commerce giant’s landmark U.S. debut. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

“The industry and creativity that Koreans have created the ‘Miracle of the Han River.’ And we are just so excited to be just a small part of that incredible story,” Coupang founder and CEO Kim Bom-suk said in an interview with CNBC, referring to South Korea’s economic rise from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Noting Coupang’s debut marks the largest IPO by a foreign company since China’s Alibaba in 2014, Kim said it added another “testament to the Korean story.”

Kim pinned high hopes on the South Korean 530 trillion-won-plus e-commerce market, calling it “the only top 10 global e-commerce market not controlled by Amazon and Alibaba” in a separate online interview with South Korean reporters in the U.S.

First on the Coupang CEO’s list is the nationwide expansion of delivery centers, which would require about 50,000 additional hirings in the next five years, he said.

He also showed optimism for Coupang’s immense earnings deficit.

“We see it as investment rather than losses, and we intend to invest aggressively, continuously and strategically,” he said.

Coupang’s operations will be focused on the local e-commerce market, although overseas expansion may be considered in the long run, he told reporters.

Regarding the heated merger and acquisition (M&A) move in South Korea’s retail industry, Kim said such a move is not of immediate interest to Coupang. The company is not necessarily against M&A, but it would require much confidence and analysis, he said.

According to its registration form filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Coupang seeks to build additional logistic centers, expand employment and venture into new business sectors with the proceeds from the sale of its shares in the U.S.

The company already has about 70 percent of South Korea’s population within a 11-kilometer radius of its distribution centers, but additional facilities are needed in rural areas to strengthen its signature ultra-fast delivery service, it said.

“I think we’ve been fortunate to be working with all my colleagues and investors who have been aligned and unwavering on the long-term strategy. We are here because we kept our eyes on that long-term strategy to build real value for our customers and shareholders,” Kim said in the interview.

“So I think we will continue to remain focused. This IPO now gives us resources to remain steadfast on that journey,” the CEO said.

The company earlier said the IPO process will be legally completed by Monday.

This photo provided by Coupang Inc. shows the company’s flag hoisted together with the national flags of South Korea and the United States at the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange on March 11, 2021, to celebrate its landmark U.S. debut. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)