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Naver Webtoon in talks to raise $400 mln from global investor Naver’s digital cartoon arm plans to go public on Nasdaq by 2022

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2021-03-23 08:12:11

이 기사는 2021년 03월 23일 08:07 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

Naver Webtoon, the digital cartoon arm of South Korean internet giant Naver Corp, is set to raise $400 million from a global investor as it prepares for an initial public offering (IPO) in New York by next year.

The digital cartoon business is in discussions to raise $400 million in a pre-IPO round from a global investor, industry sources said. It reportedly targeted overseas investors only, hiring a foreign investment bank to manage the funding round.

The move comes as the online cartoon unit is aiming to list on Nasdaq by the end of next year. It seems to want to increase its value through a strategic partnership with a global investor before a planned IPO, industry watchers said.

Since being split off from Naver Corp in 2017, the digital cartoon operation has rapidly expanded into global markets, with North America being a key driver of its growth. As part of efforts to better position itself in the market, the business implemented a corporate restructuring last year to make its U.S. unit the parent company of two other units in South Korea and Japan.

The listing would mark another U.S. stock market debut of Naver Corp’s subsidiaries after the messaging app Line was listed in New York and Tokyo in 2015.

The online cartoon platform is estimated to be worth about 5 trillion won ($4.4 billion). Its annual revenues grew almost four-fold from 34 billion won in 2017 to 132.2 billion won in 2020, with more than 72 million monthly users.

Naver Corp has become more visible in the content landscape globally. It announced a $600 million takeover of the world’s largest social storytelling platform Wattpad in February, beating off rival bids from big names such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Facebook, ByteDance and Spotify. The Canadian entertainment company has more than 90 million monthly users.

In 2017, Naver Webtoon and mobile video messaging app Snow jointly established digital drama studio Playlist, which has since released several popular web dramas. Naver Webtoon also recently invested about 33.5 billion won in Contents First, which operates the digital comic platform Tappytoon, to acquire some 25% stake in the company. (Reporting by Si-eun Park)
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