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Analysts upbeat over Kakao Pay’s valuation

A promotional image of Kakao Pay (Kakao Pay)
A promotional image of Kakao Pay (Kakao Pay)
South Korean mobile payment app operator Kakao Pay embarked on a two-day book building process targeting institutional investors Wednesday, following delays due to local authorities’ requests.

The result will determine at which price a share of Kakao Pay, the Ant Group-backed financial technology firm, would be offered, as well as the proceeds Kakao Pay will be able to attract through the initial public offering, ahead of its proposed market debut on Nov. 3.

Korean analysts are valuing the company -- dedicated to giving consumers access to mobile payments and to brokeraging financial services -- at up to nearly 15 trillion won ($12.8 billion) once it goes public.

Kim Dong-hee, an analyst at Meritz Securities, said in a note Wednesday that Kakao Pay’s price target is set at 110,000 won per share, bringing the firm’s maximum equity valuation to 14.4 trillion won.

This means that Kakao Pay’s share price would be able to rise by 22 percent by next year after Kakao Pay’s offered price is set at the upper end of the target range of 90,000 won.

This stems from Kim’s estimate that its mobile payment business will be valued at 4.9 trillion won by 2022, while the valuation of its financial services brokerage division could reach up to 9.6 trillion won.

Kim attributed this to a high entry barrier of financial technology firms that is building, in a note to investors.

Another analyst, Lee Chang-young of Yuanta Securities Korea, projected its valuation to reach 10.2 trillion won by 2022.

Lee’s projection is lower than that of Kim, with his valuation of the financial services brokerage business estimated at 4.2 trillion won, although restructuring part of its financial product distribution business gave the company a green light.

According to the latest prospectus, Kakao Pay is expected to go public at a valuation up to 11.7 trillion won, on the premise that its offered price is fixed at 90,000 won.

If that scenario becomes reality, Kakao Pay will raise up to 1.53 trillion won in proceeds from the IPO via 17 million new shares. The proceeds will be used to enhance its business and spur investment, according to the latest filing.

This comes after Kakao Pay revised its IPO filing twice earlier this year, since the company first submitted one in July. In the latest move, the introduction of the Act on the Protection of Financial Consumers has forced Kakao Pay to comply with the strengthened consumer safeguards by the financial regulator in Korea.

Kakao Pay is a joint venture of embattled internet firm Kakao Corp. and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s financial arm Ant Group. It recorded 17.9 billion won in operating loss in 2020.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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