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Kakao rises to Korea’s 5th largest biz group

Kakao Group, which started off as a mobile messenger app operator and has aggressively expanded into new business territories, is now the country’s fifth-largest business group in terms of market cap, data shows.

According to financial data from Korea Exchange and market researcher Infomax, the aggregate market capitalization of all Kakao firms stood at 73.9 trillion won ($65.1 billion) as of Friday.

After a dizzying array of spinoffs, mergers and acquisitions in past years, Kakao has a total of 118 companies under its wing. Only three -- messenger operator Kakao Corp., Kakao Games and Neptune -- are publicly traded.

The total market capitalization of Kakao Group follows the country’s four biggest conglomerates: Samsung Electronics with 751 trillion won, SK Group with 200 trillion won, LG Group with 158 trillion won and Hyundai Motor Group at 152 trillion won.

The group’s market value rapidly skyrocketed to 37 trillion won last year from 13 trillion won in 2019, as demand for contactless services surged under the pandemic situation.

From 2019 to date, the group’s value has soared by a whopping 459 percent due to spikes in the affiliates’ stock prices.

The group’s value is expected to further grow as it plans to enlist affiliates on the stock market in the future.

KakaoBank, the group’s flagship financial business, is scheduled to go public in July, while Kakao Pay has also applied for a preliminary review of an initial public offering.

Ahead of the listing, KakaoBank shares were quoted at around 97,000 won apiece on the over-the-counter market, putting the firm’s market cap at around 40 trillion won.

The group also appears to be expanding its presence in the fields of entertainment and mobility.

Kakao Entertainment, the content company providing web cartoons, novels and music, and Kakao Mobility, the operator of its taxi-hailing app, are also planning for IPOs next year.

By Song Su-hyun (