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Naver Webtoon eyes IPO in US

This file photo taken Oct. 6, 2020, shows Naver Corp.'s headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)
This file photo taken Oct. 6, 2020, shows Naver Corp.'s headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)
Naver is considering listing its web cartoon in the US as part of efforts to go global, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

Naver’s chief financial officer Park Sang-jin said the company is eyeing more dollar bond sales and a possible future US initial public offering for Naver Webtoon, according to the wire service.

“To grow, it’s inevitable that we go global,” Park was quoted as saying.

“We should find business opportunities and meet capable partners to supplement our assets.”

Naver Webtoon doesn’t have immediate plans to raise funds for now, as it focuses on growth, but it may consider an IPO if the operation becomes more solid and familiar to US investors, Park said.

The web cartoon platform provider moved its headquarters from Korea to Los Angeles last December.

In January, Naver acquired Canada’s Wattpad, the world’s largest internet novel platform, with over 90 million users spend a total of 23 billion minutes per month on the site.

Naver hopes to bolster its storytelling business via Naver Webtoon and Wattpad in North America.

In February, Naver invested in Wallapop, Spain’s largest virtual marketplace for resellers.

Park said Naver is looking for more opportunities in Japan, where its Line messaging service is popular, as well as Europe, Southeast Asia and Taiwan.

Having issued $500 million worth of ESG bonds last month, Naver Corp. is also mulling selling more, Bloomberg said.

Separately, Naver Webtoon chief executive Kim Jun-koo said in a North American online tech conference on Wednesday that the company has the characteristics of both YouTube and Netflix as it offers grounds for amateur creators to grow into professionals.

The essence of storytelling content lies in diversity, Kim said during the online conference by Collision, adding that Naver Webtoon was preparing a variety of production tools such as artificial intelligence-based “auto-drawing” to enable anyone with ideas to create visual content. 

By Kim So-hyun(sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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