First-generation ecommerce platform Interpark seeks buyer CEO Lee Ki-hyung and related parties aim to sell some 28% stake

Translated by Kim So-in 공개 2021-07-15 08:00:12

이 기사는 2021년 07월 15일 07:52 thebell 에 표출된 기사입니다.

South Korea’s first-generation ecommerce platform Interpark has been put up for sale amid rising valuation of domestic ecommerce companies.

Interpark's founder and CEO Lee Ki-hyung and related parties have hired NH Investment & Securities to handle a sale process for their combined 28% stake, industry sources said Monday. iMarket Korea, a maintenance, repair, and operations service provider, and Interpark Bio Convergence are excluded from the sale.

Industry observers said Interpark's management believes that this is the appropriate time to receive the highest value for the business given fierce competition among ecommerce companies including Coupang, Naver and

Interpark's theater and concert ticket reservations business has been hit hard by the prolonged Covid-19 due to shutdown of stages.

Unlike platform companies that must be accompanied by innovation, Interpark’s conservative stance in making investments also seems to have influenced the decision. The company has experienced a series of failures in investments in new businesses after its portfolio reorganization.

Interpark sold Gmarket to eBay for around 440 billion won ($383 million) in 2008. After that, the company acquired iMarket Korea from Samsung Group for approximately 300 billion won to enter into the business to business (B2B) market.

Interpark has invested in a variety of sectors to secure a new growth engine, but the new businesses have become a headache for the company. Interpark acquired coffee franchise De Chocolate Coffee through Interpark HM in May 2010, but decided to fold the business in just four years and sold the franchise to Hollys Coffee.

Interpark HM went bankrupt in 2014. Interpark also liquidated Circle Contents Company and sold Livetone and Digital Idea. Interpark’s wholesale book distribution unit Interpark Songin Books, which it purchased in 2017, also went bankrupt last month. A series of failures have reportedly strengthened the company’s conservative decision-making and its market share has declined further as it passively responded to M&As in the platform market.

Lee seems to have made his decision to sell the business after eBay Korea was sold at a valuation of 4.3 trillion won to Shinsegae’s Emart, higher than a market consensus of 3 trillion won earlier this year.

Lee reportedly plans to focus on iMarket Korea and the bio sector. iMarket Korea invested 1.5 billion won in PeopleBio, which specializes in blood-based diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, in 2018 and purchased convertible preferred stocks worth 10 billion won this year. It also took over Cellemedy’s shares worth 2 billion won and acquired a 3.5% stake in GI Innovation for 20 billion won in April.

Interpark established Interpark Bio Convergence last year. The company is expected to use the proceeds from the sale to increase investments in the sector. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)
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