Coupang, backed by SoftBank, raises $ 3.5 billion ahead of US listing

Coupang, backed by SoftBank, raised $ 3.5 billion in an initial public offering, exceeding expectations as a sign of investor confidence in the pandemic-fueled growth of the South Korean e-commerce group.

The company valued the shares at $ 35 on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the deal, which would total $ 4.2 billion including existing shares sold by insiders. This price would give Coupang a market cap of $ 60 billion, based on the number of shares outstanding, making it the highest listing of an international company on a U.S. stock exchange since the company went public. Chinese Alibaba in 2014.

Coupang was expected to sell 120 million shares when it went public, including 20 million existing shareholders, including BlackRock and company founder Bom Kim. Coupang previously said he expected to sell shares at $ 27- $ 30 before increasing the range to $ 32- $ 34 on Tuesday. Coupang declined to comment.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund, one of the biggest investors Coupang, would hold a stake worth nearly $ 20 billion at the IPO price.

Coupang’s scheduled debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday will make it one of the few South Korean companies to trade on the US stock exchanges. The price of the IPO showed investors were confident that its growth during the coronavirus crisis was sustainable and that they were willing to overlook recent ones concerns about working conditions in the business.

The expected easing of the pandemic “does not mean that the trend of online shopping will slow down,” said Eric Kim, an early investor and former member of the board of directors of Coupang and co-founder of Goodwater Capital. He added that “there will be some standardization” around the growth of the online retailer, “but a lot of it will be permanent.”

Coupang almost doubled its revenues for the past year to $ 12 billion while reducing its operating losses to $ 527 million.

The Seoul-based group was founded in 2010 by Kim, a Harvard Business School dropout, who will retain more than three-quarters of the voting rights after the offer.

Coupang, nicknamed South Korea’s Amazon, has stood up to dominate the business-to-consumer part of South Korea’s e-commerce market. It promises one-day delivery on almost all of its product selection and offers to deliver a large portion of its orders in just a few hours. It added 25,000 employees last year.

In a letter to investors last month, Kim wrote that the group’s mission was to “create a world where customers ask, ‘How could I live without Coupang? “”

Complaints about working conditions in Coupang from current and former employees as well as unions and the South Korean Ministry of Labor have cast a shadow over its growth. Critics center on a range of injuries and deaths among workers and contractors. The company declined to comment on the more general allegations.

Coupang will follow several large tech companies that have gone public in recent months, including some that have received a boost in the wake of the pandemic.

Roblox online gaming platform, a favorite of tweens stuck at home, has entered the markets direct sale Wednesday, with its shares rising to $ 69.50 at the end of its first day of trading.

DoorDash, which has seen demand for its meal delivery service increase with social restrictions imposed over the past year, went public in December with a big pop on its first day of trading. The company’s share price has since fallen almost 30%.

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