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Jeju Beer, first Korean craft brewer to go public

Jeju Beer Company CEO Moon Hyuk-kee speaks at a press briefing in Seoul on Monday. (Jeju Beer Company)
Jeju Beer Company CEO Moon Hyuk-kee speaks at a press briefing in Seoul on Monday. (Jeju Beer Company)
The Jeju Beer Company, based on the southern resort island of Jeju in South Korea, said Monday that it plans to become the first local craft brewer to go public.

Its planned market debut on the nation’s tech-heavy Kosdaq this month is set to raise 24.2 billion won ($21.70 million) worth of fresh funds. The homegrown craft brewer seeks to issue some 8.36 million shares in a price band of 2,600-2,900 won, with Daishin Securities as the lead underwriter.

“Taking the Kosdaq listing as an opportunity, we look forward to strengthening our research and development capabilities and investments in brewery facilities to become one of the nation’s top four beer companies,” Jeju Beer Company founder and Chief Executive Officer Moon Hyuk-kee said during a press conference in Seoul.

Founded in February 2015, the company partnered with New York’s top craft brewer, Brooklyn Brewery, and obtained the recipe from the US firm, the CEO said.

Local craft brewers are expanding their presence in the alcohol market in growing numbers. Since changes were made to the liquor tax act, craft beers have become more widely available at convenience stores and supermarkets at competitive prices.

In line with the popularity of craft beers and the company’s unique product designs reflecting the image of Jeju, the company’s sales jumped 194.6 percent on-year to 21.6 billion won last year.

Due to continual operating losses, however, Jeju Beer will be listed under the exchange’s “Tesla standards,” for promising companies that have not yet posted significant profit. But it expects to pocket returns upon the IPO.

The craft brewer aims for lasting prosperity through “glocalization,” meaning globalization achieved through localization by expanding exports. It started exporting its craft beer products in March 2019 and now exports them to India, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, the company said.

Under the plan, nearly 2 billion won of the IPO proceeds will be used to reinforce the company’s global business, especially for entering the Vietnamese market next year. The majority of the proceeds will help the company ramp up its facilities and operations, and repay its debt.

“We will actively use our distribution networks built from global partnerships to become Korea’s representative beer firm on the global stage. ... Just as the US electric vehicle maker Tesla has enjoyed rapid growth, we’re anticipated to be the Tesla of the beer industry,” Moon said.

By Jie Ye-eun (