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Bandi & Luni’s bookstore chain up for sale

Courtesy of Seoul Book Center
Courtesy of Seoul Book Center
The owners of the Seoul Book Center -- operator of South Korea’s third-largest bookstore chain, Bandi & Luni’s -- are looking to put their stake in the company up for sale through deal manager eBest Investment & Securities, the brokerage house said Monday.

Founded in 1988, the Seoul Book Center operates 10 bookstores and stationery stores across the country, as well as an online bookstore.

The deal is meant to give its owners, including CEO Kim Dong-kook and his father, Kim Chun-sik, an exit opportunity and invite a new shareholder to control the bookstore chain. eBest agreed Monday and the Seoul Book Center will serve as a sales bid manager, finance the acquisition deal for the buyer and underwrite the firm’s initial public offering. Incumbent CEO Kim had 50.6 percent voting rights in the company, according to a disclosure in 2018.

The exact amount of the stake to be put up for sale, and the price, have yet to be determined.

The news comes more than two months after Bandi & Luni’s operator signed a contract with financial adviser eBest.

The Seoul Book Center is regarded as one of the country’s three major bookstore franchises, the others being Kyobo and Youngpoong, and is an operator of Starfield Library within Coex Mall in Seoul.

The firm has sought opportunities to gain a boost for its faltering offline business. It closed five brick-and-mortar bookstores in 2019, from 15 as of end-2018. The Seoul Book Center’s revenue shrank over 25 percent to 82.6 billion won ($67.6 million) in 2018, while its net profit jumped 2.5 times to 884.6 million won.

Meanwhile, eBest is the first Korean brokerage house to offer financial advisory services to a firm to boost its valuation, other than conventional investment banking activities such as issuance of equities or corporate financing.

“Bookstores in Korea have seen their growth stalled, and (eBest) will be involved in laying out (the Seoul Book Center’s) fresh blueprint for business management,” an eBest spokesperson told The Korea Herald.

By Son Ji-hyoung (
Korea Herald daum