The Carlyle Group, a global investment company, would buy 221 billion won (USD 200 million) worth of shares from Kakao Mobility Corp., raising its value to 4.3 trillion won (USD 3.9 billion). Since its launch in 2015, Kakao Mobility has become South Korea’s largest Mobility-as-a-Service platform, gaining over 28 million registered users.
With its headquarters in Pangyo, Kakao Mobility employs over 500 workers, offering various mobility services through the Kakao T app. Kakao T provides transportation services, including cab-hailing, chauffeur and bike-hiring, parking searching, train ticket booking, and navigation.
Recently, mobile apps have provided convenience and efficiency to mobility service users. Based on industry data, the usage of mobile app-based mobility services is actively increasing, especially in South Korean markets. Through the investment, Kakao Mobility will utilize Carlyle’s industry networks and expertise to develop smart mobility platform technologies to create new business opportunities and operations.
“Our partnership with Carlyle will enable us to expedite our growth strategy for our smart mobility platform, which aims to create a more comfortable and convenient mobility experience for users,” said Ryu Gung-Seon, Kakao Mobility’s CEO.
The Kakao Mobility CEO also stated that the company is planning to work with other mobility companies to enhance transportation platforms. According to Carlyle Asia Managing Director John Kim, the collaboration will improve Kakao Mobility’s technology and data analytics capacity.
Carlyle’s South Korean investments
Along with Kakao Mobility’s business know-how, Carlyle Group’s technologies would help boost transportation-related innovation growth throughout South Korea. Based on Kakao’s regulatory filing, Carlyle would purchase 3.8 million shares from the company, amounting to 221 billion won (USD 200 million).
For over 20 years, Carlyle has been funding local companies. In 2020, Carlyle partnered with Korean banking firm KB Financial Group for investment activities. Carlyle also collaborated with reinsurance company Korean Re for business solutions for local insurance companies.
Kakao Mobility’s transportation service expansion
In addition to Carlyle Group’s investment, Kakao Mobility is finalizing discussions with IT company Google Inc. for equity investments. Currently, Kakao Mobility aims to acquire additional funding from Google through rights issuing. In line with its IPO plans for 2022, Kakao Mobility targets to amass 332 billion won (USD 300 million) for operating expenses. Google-backed self-driving taxi operator Waymo is reportedly collaborating with Kakao Mobility to develop autonomous driving technologies.
In March 2020, South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Energy approved Kakao Mobility’s autonomous driving development and related tests. Additionally, from April to October 2020, Kakao T Blue Taxis’ units promptly increased from 5,200 units to 13,000.
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