Private equity firm S2L Partners is considering selling its majority stake in online literary platform Munpia to exit its four-year investment, as listing plans are making slow progress.
The Seoul-based firm wants to sell its 55% stake in Munpia Investment Purpose Company, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that has control of the web novel platform with a 65% stake, industry sources said. It is expected to hire an advisory firm soon to oversee the sale process.
S2L Partners bought the controlling stake in 2016 in a deal that valued the company at 50 billion won ($44.3 million), and then Munpia founder Kim Hwan-cheol purchased some shares back. S2L Partners now owns 55% of the SPV and Kim 45%.
Munpia hired Daishin Securities in 2017 to lead preparations for its initial public offering, through which the private equity firm originally planned to exit its investment. But S2L Partners changed its mind and decided a sale would be quicker as the life of a fund that was used for investments in Munpia will end soon. Munpia is still aiming to go public by the end of this year, although the timing could be delayed depending on the timeline for the sale process.
The company’s rapid revenue growth attracts interest from potential buyers, industry watchers said. Munpia recorded revenue of 54 billion won in 2020, a nearly two-fold increase from 28.7 billion won a year earlier. Operating income also grew from 5.2 billion won to 7 billion won in the same period.
Potential buyers are also attracted to the company’s potential for expanding its business based on the many popular novels posted on the platform, which can be adapted to movies and TV shows. Home to more than 47,000 writers, Munpia is the fourth largest player in the country’s web novel market after Naver, Kakao and Ridibooks.
Munpia has a strong financial position with 30 billion won of net cash and no long-term debt. The company is estimated to be worth more than 300 billion won.
Other shareholders include China Literature Limited, a subsidiary of Tencent, with a 25.22% stake, and South Korean video game company NCSoft (6.23%). (Reporting by Si-eun Park)