Naver Corp., South Korea’s leading search engine operator, announced that it has plans to list Naver Webtoon in the US. Established in 2017, Naver Webtoon is a webcomic platform dedicated to cultivating innovative story creators while closely valuing consumers. According to Naver, the planned Naver Webtoon initial public offering (IPO) listing is part of its efforts to go global.
Focusing on Growth
Currently, Naver acquires over 95% of its revenue from domestic operations. Due to this, Naver aims to improve its standing in international markets. To this end, Naver considers issuing more dollar bonds after raising $500 million in its first dollar bond sales in March. Notably, the development company plans to file a US IPO for Naver Webtoon in the future.
“To grow, it’s inevitable that we go global,” said Park Sang-Jin, Chief Financial Officer at Naver Corp. “We should find business opportunities and meet capable partners to supplement our assets.” Park also shared that Naver actively looks for more opportunities in European, Southeast Asian, and Taiwanese markets. Naver also plans to cultivate its operations in Japan, where its Line messaging app continues to gain popularity.
Following Coupang’s debut in the New York Stock Exchange last month, other South Korean companies also launched global expansion plans. For instance, Kakao Entertainment recently shared that it is boosting its content portfolio in preparation for a US IPO listing. Furthermore, Naver continues to invest in international companies to enhance its global presence. In March, Naver strategically invested in the Spain-based digital marketplace platform Wallapop to expand its e-commerce businesses.
Strengthening its Storytelling Businesses
In January, Naver also acquired the world’s largest storytelling platform Wattpad to strengthen its storytelling business operations in North America. Naver also bought Wattpad as part of its goal of becoming a global multimedia entertainment provider. Currently, Naver competes with Kakao Corp. in acquiring Munpia Inc., a local web novel platform, for boosting original IP content.
In December 2020, Naver relocated Naver Webtoon’s headquarters to Los Angeles, preparing for potential international IPOs. Moreover, Park stated Naver Webtoon would file an IPO when its operations in the US become more solid and investor-friendly. According to Naver, Naver Webtoon mainly focuses on growth and leading the global webcomic market rather than profitability. Since its international release, Naver Webtoon gained more than 70 million monthly users. This year, analysts also expect the webtoon unit’s revenue to reach $304 million.
Similarly, during the Collision Conference 2021, Naver Webtoon’s CEO Kim Jun-Koo stressed the importance of diversity in storytelling content. Kim said that Naver Webtoon would introduce new AI-based production tools to foster talent and help amateur creators become professionals. Naver’s CEO, Han Seong-Sook, also participated in the event, promoting IP and digital content expansion.
In particular, Han vowed to create synergy between Naver Webtoon and Wattpad to cater to Generation Z’s digital enthusiasm. Wattpad’s CEO Allen Lau also revealed that they would adopt more than 90 Wattpad novels into various multimedia content.
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