CEO of New York-based IR firm aims to focus on South Korean market
There are a lot of great companies in Seoul who with the right investors and counselors could go to the U.S. and benefit from the investors, said Debra Chen, CEO and founder of Icon Media Communications.
“We feel really strongly about the South Korean market and this is the market we really want to concentrate on,” Chen told The Korea Herald last week.
|Debra Chen, CEO and founder of Icon Media Communications, speaks during an interview in Seoul. (Chung Hee-cho/ The Korea Herald)|
Founded in 2009, Icon Media Communications is a boutique investor relations and strategic communications firm based in New York. It introduces small- to mid-cap companies in Asia and the U.S. to the investor community and helps them find exposure to the U.S. market.
Its major clients so far include many Chinese companies such as YOU On Demand, China’s first national pay-per-view and video-on-demand platform, and China Networks International Holdings, China’s leading and exclusive operator of television advertising networks, and also Korean companies like Sungwon Pipe, the nation’s No. 1 stainless steel pipe manufacturing company and DongA One, a leading provider of flour and feed mills.
Chen visited Korea last week to sign a strategic partnership with Seoul IR Consulting. The two companies hope to combine their expertise to link more Korean firms with investors from the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Korea has a dynamic and thriving financial market, said Chen, and U.S. investors should be excited because of Korea’s sophisticated education system, geographic position, innovative ideas and honoring the history but while possessing a progressive mindset.
“Korea has been doing business in the U.S. for many more years than other countries, so I also think that there is a better understanding of corporate governance and transparency here that would make South Korean companies attractive to U.S. investors,” she added.
Chen expected that infrastructure-related companies and consumer products and services would especially attract U.S. investors.
“Our sweet spot in terms of looking at companies is the small- and mid-cap range, which we believe are underserved here,” said Chen. She named home shopping channel CJ O Shopping and English education company YBM as some of the Korean companies she is eying, as they are expanding rapidly, possess major growth factors and are interested in globalizing their shareholder base.
The first step Icon needs to take for the Korean market is to make U.S. investors aware of Korean companies, added E.E. Wang, senior account executive of the company.
“U.S. investors do not realize that when they are walking into their homes, they are already surrounded by South Korean products. Warren Buffett always says ‘invest in what you know.’ They need to know that their lives are already touched by South Korean products.”
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)