South Korea’s Kakao Bank is forging ahead with plans for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. Bloomberg reported on Monday (June 28) that the digital-first lender is now looking to raise $2.3 billion.
The company is backed by South Korea’s Kakao Corp. In a regulatory filing on Monday (June 28), Kakao Bank said it would offer 65.45 million in shares.
According to Bloomberg, at the top end of what the bank seeks, its market capitalization would be $16 billion. That valuation could make Kakao Bank the third most valuable lender in Korea, after KB Financial Group Inc. and Shinhan Financial Group. The IPO would follow the debut of such South Korean companies as online retailer Coupang Inc. in New York.
In general, Kakao has been pushing toward taking its affiliates public. The company listed Kakao Games last September, and mobile payments unit Kakao Pay has landed preliminary approval for its own offering. Kakao Pay is the FinTech arm of Kakao Corp. Kakao Mobility and Kakao Entertainment are also mulling listings, Bloomberg said.
Kakao Bank was formed not long after the Korean government initially offered online banking permits in 2015. The bank has gained an advantage from its parent company’s Kakao Talk, the country’s most widely used mobile messenger service that claims 46 million active users, per Bloomberg.
Late last year, Reuters reported that Kakao Bank had chosen Credit Suisse and KB Investment & Securities as its advisors for its upcoming IPO, with Citigroup as a co-advisor.
Kakao Bank became profitable in 2019. The bank’s valuation at the time was estimated to be around 10 trillion won ($9.1 billion).
About 23 percent of loans in Korea were made through online lenders last year, up from 13 percent in 2019, said Lee Seung-gun, CEO of Toss, a South Korean FinTech company.