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Coupang Said To Be Eyeing 2021 IPO

Coupang CEO Bom Kim.
image: Coupang

Coupang, a SoftBank-backed South Korean e-commerce startup, is eyeing a 2021 initial public offering (IPO) according to a Bloomberg reportBloomberg says the company, founded in 2010 and said to be valued at $9 billion, has embarked on tax structuring among other changes as it aims for a public listing next year. Another sign Coupang may be eyeing a soon IPO is its appointment of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in December last year. The CFO in case was Alberto Fornaro, a seasoned executive who has held senior financial roles for more than two decades at Korean firms.

Coupang's IPO could be a test of the waters for the SoftBank Vision Fund, which has seen some of its portfolio companies struggle and collectively lay off thousands. Coupang appears to be doing good, with 2018 revenues said to have approached $5 billion. Bloomberg also reports the company had more than $10 billion in gross merchandise value as of December 31 and that sales increased more than 60% year-over-year in 2019. However, Coupang is also said to be currently unprofitable.

The SoftBank Vision Fund invested $2 billion in Coupang in November 2018, an investment that came after an earlier $1 billion investment in the company by SoftBank itself. The likes of Sequoia Capital and BlackRock are also investors in Coupang.

Coupang has fuelled its growth with logistics and e-commerce innovations such as overnight delivery, a custom payments system, and grocery and food delivery. The company continues to thrive in spite of competition from the likes of eBay and family-run conglomerates such as Shinsegae, which account for a substantial part of the e-commerce market in South Korea.

According to Coupang, South Korea's e-commerce market is the fifth largest in the world and on track to be the third-largest by next year, behind only China and the U.S. This implies there's more room for expansion which the company happens to be keen on.

Although based in Korea, Coupang also has offices in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Shanghai.





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