South Korean E-Commerce Giant Coupang Files For US IPO

The South Korean e-commerce giant and Amazon archnemesis Coupang has filed for an initial public offering in the US, paving…

Coupang logo

The South Korean e-commerce giant and Amazon archnemesis Coupang has filed for an initial public offering in the US, paving the way for a blockbuster tech listing to come from the country likely this year. Coupang has unveiled its S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for an IPO, noting its intention to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol “CPNG”.

Coupang is the biggest online retailer in South Korea, offering a service that provides quick deliveries of millions of items to households just like Amazon. Often dubbed the “Amazon of Korea”, Coupang is a ten-year-old company that leveraged its locality to conquer the e-commerce market in South Korea to a number 1 position and has thrived very well since.

From its S-1 filing, Coupang indicates that it posted sales of $12 billion in 2020, nearly double its sales of $6.3 billion in 2019. The company has grown astronomically over the past few years, multiplying annual sales from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $12 billion in 2020.

It’s obvious that Coupang has widely benefitted from the large shift towards e-commerce services that occurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The company has spent big on expansion over the years, thanks to some $3.4 billion in venture funding, and thus isn’t profitable, posting a net loss of roughly $475 million in 2020 compared to $699 million in 2019.

Coupang is backed by a handful of institutional investors including Sequoia Capital, BlackRock, and SoftBank, which is its biggest outside investor. With over $2 billion that SoftBank invested in Coupang, it’s listed as an anchor shareholder in the Korean e-commerce giant’s S-1 filing with a stake of over 5% as required for disclosure. For now, its exact stake in Coupang hasn’t been disclosed.

Most of SoftBank’s investment in Coupang came from the Japanese tech giant’s Vision Fund and thus could see Coupang reap major profits for the fund in a year that it’s also seen big profits from its investments in other recently listed tech companies like the food delivery company DoorDashiBuying company Opendoor, and ride-hailing giant Uber.

Coupang is one of South Korea’s highest-valued technology companies with a $9 billion valuation from its most recent funding round. Now, given that the $9 billion figure is even much less than the company’s 2020 revenues of $12 billion, it’s likely that Coupang will be getting a much higher valuation on the frothy American public markets.

With a public S-1 filing, a completed public listing for Coupang should be expected within the next few months.

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