The Korea Herald


Coway rebrands under Netmarble

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Feb. 7, 2020 - 14:29

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Woongjin Coway is now simply Coway after Netmarble’s acquisition of the company.

Coway convened an interim shareholders meeting on Friday at its head office in Gongju, South Chungcheong Province, where it voted on loosing Woongjin from its company name.

Netmarble Chairman Bang Jun-hyuk was made a director, as well as Netmarble-Coway task force team leader Seo Jang-won and Coway CEO Lee Hae-sun.

Four newly appointed outside directors were Kim Jin-bae, professor at Korea University Business School, Kim Kyu-ho, professor at Sogang University focusing on industry and academia collaboration, Yoon Boo-hyun, adviser for LG Uplus and Lee Da-woo, partner at law firm Yulchon.

The first Kim, Yoon and Lee are also new members of the audit committee.

All new appointments are subject to three-year term limits.

Netmarble, a mobile games company, agreed to acquire a 25.08 percent stake in Coway for 1.74 trillion won ($1.46 billion) from the previous majority stakeholder, education service Woongjin Thinkbig.

Netmarble said Tuesday it borrowed 550 billion won from a financial institution to finalize the Coway acquisition within February.

Coway is a household electronics rental service company that started out renting water purifiers as an industry-first case in Korea in April 1998.

The company has continuously added new products for rent, covering air purifiers, electronic bidets, mattresses and smart closets.

The games industry has more than once pointed out that Netmarble’s and Coway’s target consumers are starkly different, casting doubts on the benefits of the acquisition.

Bang had previously set a goal of achieving revenue of 5 trillion won in 2020.

Netmarble brought in a little over 2 trillion won in revenue in 2018.

As for Coway, the company recorded 2.5 trillion won revenue in 2017, 2.7 trillion won revenue in 2018 and 2.2 trillion won in the first three quarters of 2019.

A simple combination of the two’s revenues could be enough to realize Bang’s goal.

Netmarble envisions combining its games knowledge such as artificial intelligence, cloud and big data technology with Coway’s rental service to foray into subscription-based smart home business.

Netmarble shares are divided between Chairman Bang, who owns 24.19 percent and CJ ENM, who has 21.85 percent and Tencent, who has 17.57 percent. NCSoft has 6.82 percent stake in Netmarble, and others hold 29.57 percent. A few industry sources believe Tencent’s involvement in Netmarble may help increase Coway’s potential in China.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (