An employee of Coupang poses in front of a delivery truck. Coupang disclosed its plan to have its stocks listed on the U.S. bourse. Photo courtesy of Coupang

Korean e-commerce giant files for US IPO

Coupang, South Korea’s leading e-commerce company, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange, which would take place as early as next month.

The Seoul-based company disclosed its filing on Feb. 12. Its value is expected to be around $30 billion, which would be the biggest for a foreign outfit since Alibaba’s debut in 2014.

Such investment banks as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are included in the underwriters for the long-awaited offering.

Media outlets reported Coupang’s plan for a U.S. IPO, but the online retailer has not disclosed details for that.

The timing couldn’t be better for Coupang _ the U.S. IPO market is very hot thanks to the rich liquidity offered by the U.S. government aimed at fighting against the economic downturn amid COVID-19.

Coupang almost doubled its sales to around $12 billion in 2020 from a year before. It failed to record a profit but managed to substantially decrease its net loss from $700 million to $475 million.

Ever since its foundation in 2010, Harvard dropout Bom Kim has put revenue growth first rather than making profits. As a result, it has accumulated around $4 billion in losses.

Some cast doubts on the cash-burning startup but the approach worked as it nudged past traditional powerhouses to become the leader in the e-commerce industry.

In particular, Coupang introduced the so-called “Rocket Delivery” service of promising delivery within 24 hours to win the hearts and minds of end consumers.

In recognition of the company’s growth potential, SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested some $3 billion.

“Coupang has expanded its business horizon,” Mirae Asset Daewoo analyst Kim Myung-joo said. “Coupang may be able to become a genuine retail powerhouse beyond the online market.”