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July 16, 2024

Naver Webtoon aims for $2.67b valuation via Nasdaq listing

PUBLISHED : June 18, 2024 - 15:52

UPDATED : June 18, 2024 - 15:52

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Naver Webtoon, known as Webtoon Entertainment in the US, is targeting a valuation of up to $2.67 billion in its initial public offering. (Naver Webtoon)

Naver Webtoon, known as Webtoon Entertainment in the US, is seeking to be listed on the Nasdaq market, where it expects to have a corporate value of up to $2.67 billion.

Webtoon Entertainment submitted a registration statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission for its upcoming initial public offering on Monday.

The company aims to raise as much as $315 million by issuing 15 million common shares at an expected price range of $18 to $21 per share, the statement showed.

Once listed, the company will trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the stock code WBTN. The underwriters for the listing are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Evercore Inc.

After the IPO, Korean IT giant Naver and Tokyo-based LY Corp. will continue to hold a 63.4 percent stake and 24.7 percent stake, respectively, in Webtoon Entertainment, maintaining their positions as major shareholders.

In the meantime, Webtoon Entertainment also announced that Naver U.Hub, Naver's US subsidiary, has decided to purchase $50 million in Webtoon Entertainment shares.

Naver’s webtoon unit looks to tap into improving investor appetite for stock market listings amid rising bets of a soft landing in the North American market, although it started its business in Korea.

It is poised to expand its intellectual property business there by actively securing web novels and webtoon intellectual property and venturing into video content production.

Webtoon Entertainment took its current form in 2020 after restructuring shares with Korea's Naver Webtoon and Japan's Line Digital Frontier.

The following year, Naver acquired Wattpad, the world's largest web novel company, for $600 million and placed it under Webtoon Entertainment.

"Naver Webtoon has considered expanding its market share in the US as a critical long-term growth challenge,” an anonymous analyst working at a local brokerage firm told The Korea Herald.

"The Nasdaq listing itself appears to be sufficient to achieve marketing effects in the North American market and to obtain funds for investment. However, the Webtoon unit will need to seek further expansion of content and IP even after listing."

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)

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