Interpark sale likely to be competition among strategic investors Additional costs expected to be burden on potential buyers

Translated by Kim So-in 공개 2021-07-16 10:10:44

이 기사는 2021년 07월 16일 08:36 thebell 에 표출된 기사입니다.

A sale of South Korea’s pioneering booking and shopping platform Interpark is likely to be a competition among strategic investors, including platform companies and ecommerce companies.

Interpark founder and chairman Lee Ki-hyung and affiliated persons have hired NH Investment & Securities and started the sale process, industry sources said Wednesday.

Market insiders see companies which showed interests in a sale of eBay Korea as strong candidates. Lotte Shopping, 11Street, and MBK Partners participated in the preliminary bidding for eBay Korea. Kakao and Naver may also join the race for Interpark.

“After eBay Korea was sold at a relatively high price, some potential buyers reviewed a possible acquisition of Interpark, which has strong brand awareness and platform,” said an industry source. “They are expected to join the race as they have somewhat studied the target already.”

Interpark is expected to draw strong attention from platform companies. The company has focused on theater and concert ticket reservations after selling its subsidiary Gmarket in 2009. Interpark commands a 70% of share in the theater and concert ticket reservations market.

However, some market insiders said financial investors are unlikely to actively participate in the race for Interpark as the likelihood of the company’s earnings rebound is low despite its attractiveness.

Interpark’s share in the domestic ecommerce market is only 2-3% amid fierce competition led by platform giants like Naver and Kakao.

Interpark is in the red due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company may make a turnaround after the pandemic, but the situation itself is a burden on potential buyers.

An intangible cost to improve its aging reservation management system will also be high. Market insiders widely believe the situation where Interpark recording an operating loss and requiring additional costs will keep financial investors from taking over the company.

Deep-pocketed private equity firms may have interest in Interpark, but it won’t be easy to purchase the company on their own to compete for market share with Coupang, SSG, and Naver. “Heated competition in the ecommerce market will make PE firms hard to survive,” said a private equity industry source. “Few PE firms will be interested in the sale unless a consortium consisting of a strategic investor is formed.”

Market observers said the deal is highly likely to be a competition among strategic investors instead of financial investors, with retail giants like Lotte Group and CJ Group and platform companies like Kakao, and Naver considered as potential candidates. Naver and Kakao are not interested in acquiring Interpark at this stage. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)
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