Coupang, South Korea’s Amazon, raises $4.6B in American IPO

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Coupang — a South Korean e-commerce giant that has been likened to Amazon — raised nearly $4.6 billion in the US’ largest initial public offering so far this year.

The Seoul-based startup said it sold 130 million shares at $35 apiece in the IPO, giving it a market value of $60 billion ahead of its Thursday debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

The success of the sale put Coupang on track to claim the title of the year’s biggest American IPO from Bumble, the female-focused dating app that raised about $2.2 billion ahead of its listing last month.

Coupang stock, which will start trading Thursday on the NYSE under the symbol CPNG, got priced above its target range of $32 to $34. That valuation amounts to more than a sixfold increase from 2018, when it fetched a $9 billion price tag in a private fundraising round.

Coupang has become South Korea’s answer to Amazon since it was founded in 2010. The company runs an online retail marketplace, delivers groceries and prepared foods, and offers a video streaming service called Coupang Play — similar to Amazon’s growing umbrella of businesses.

Bags carrying fresh food move along a conveyor belt at a Coupang fulfillment center in Bucheon, South Korea, on Feb. 19.
Bags carrying fresh food move along a conveyor belt at a Coupang fulfillment center in Bucheon, South Korea, on Feb. 19.
SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We’re on a mission to create a world where customers wonder, ‘How did we ever live without Coupang?’” the firm’s IPO prospectus says.

Like Amazon, Coupang went through a massive growth spurt last year as the coronavirus pandemic caused demand for online shopping to explode. Its workforce roughly doubled to more than 50,000 employees and its net revenues surged about 91 percent to nearly $12 billion.

Coupang is the latest tech giant to benefit from a red-hot IPO market in the US that ushered Silicon Valley powerhouses like vacation-rental giant Airbnb and food-delivery startup DoorDash to blockbuster listings last year.

Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim at the annual Milken Conference in Beverly HIlls, Calif., in 2019.
Coupang founder and CEO Bom Kim at the annual Milken Conference in Beverly HIlls, Calif., in 2019.
Mike Blake/Reuters

About 35 percent of Coupang is owned by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the Japanese investment giant that also backed DoorDash and other buzzy firms such as Slack, Uber and WeWork, the troubled office-sharing company.

Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan and Allen & Company are the lead underwriters for the IPO.

With Post wires

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