Private equity firm IMM Private Equity will take preliminary bids in mid-November for its portfolio company W Concept Korea, with the online fashion site expected to be valued at 350 billion to 400 billion won ($307 million to $351 million).
Deal manager Citigroup Global Markets Korea Securities and IMM PE will take non-binding offers from potential buyers from November 18. About 10 potential buyers have received investment memorandum and are studying the target.
Founded in 2008, W Concept has traditionally targeted female customers in their 20s and 30s, but has recently started to broaden its customer base to middle-aged women and men.
IMM PE acquired an 80% stake for 80 billion won ($70 million) in November 2017 and has since focused on increasing the number of brands on the platform, the monthly average users (MAU) and gross merchandise volume (GMV).
W Concept’s GMV has more than doubled, rising from 90 billion won in 2017 to approximately 200 billion won last year on a consolidated basis. GMV, the total value of merchandise sold at online stores, is a key metric for measuring the value of an e-commerce platform.
About 6,000 brands were selling their products on the platform at the end of June this year, which is a twofold increase in the past three years. MAU also has doubled to 3 million consumers in that period.
Market insiders said stronger interest in non-contact firms (those with no face-to-face dealings) since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was benefiting online shopping activities and could have a positive impact on W Concept’s valuation. However, investors may have mixed views on its loss-making subsidiary W Concept USA and W Concept’s distinctive edge over rivals.
The deal has been marketed to foreign and domestic potential buyers, and IMM PE recently decided to sell the stake through a public auction. There are reports of potential interest from open market and social commerce companies at home and abroad.
W Concept’s likely valuation of 350 billion won to 400 billion won is based on multiples that applied to other companies in the same business. These include Musinsa, which received investment from global venture capital firm Sequoia Capital last year based on an enterprise value to GMV multiple of approximately 2 times. (Reporting by Ar-um Rho)