Naver’s founder Lee Hae-jin joined the list of Korea’s richest people, according to a local conglomerate-tracking website.
Chaebul.com said Wednesday that Lee, who owns 4.64 percent of shares in the nation’s largest search engine, has stock value worth 1.45 trillion won ($1.4 billion).
Lee resigned from his post as chief strategy officer in January, and has since been serving as chairman of Line Corp., the Japanese arm of Naver that operates messenger Line.
His shares surged from 50.6 million won early this year as Naver’s stock price began to rise sharply. On Tuesday, when rumors circulated that Line Corp. would go public either on the Tokyo Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, the company’s share price jumped by 52,000 won (8.97 percent), closing at 632,000 won.
But Naver later denied the rumor over Line’s IPO, saying that “we are not currently considering listing Line Corp. on the market.”
Since the portal company first went public in 2002, its market capitalization jumped 56-fold from 32.7 billion won to 18 trillion won this year, dominating the domestic search engine market.
Industry sources projected that Naver’s sales will continue to grow down the road. “Considering Line’s success in the global market, its value is estimated at 15.9 trillion won,” according to Seoul-based Woori Investment & Securities.
With Lee Hae-jin’s name added to the list, Korea now has 16 businessmen whose asset value exceeds 1 trillion won. Lee’s inclusion is especially outstanding as his stock value has risen 105.6 percent since January.
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee remained at the top with 11.7 trillion won, followed by Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo with 7.1 trillion won and vice chairman Chung Eui-sun with 3.4 trillion won.
By Shin Ji-hye