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Kakao Pay affirms trust in AliPay

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Kakao Pay CEO Ryu Young-jun answers questions during an online press conference, Monday in Seoul. Yonhap
Kakao Pay CEO Ryu Young-jun answers questions during an online press conference, Monday in Seoul. Yonhap

By Kim Yoo-chul

A top executive at Kakao Pay dismissed concerns that its share price could suffer from imminent market overhang as its No. 2 stakeholder, China's AliPay, won't unload its stakes held in the Korean company.

"I am not 100 percent sure about our shareholders. However, since the very beginning, AliPay has cooperated with Kakao Pay on multiple fronts as a strategic investor. We don't think AliPay will unload its holdings in Kakao Pay after the initial public offering (IPO). Therefore, the tradeable share volume will be limited. There will not be an overhang issue," Kakao Pay CEO Ryu Young-jun said in an online press conference, Monday.

Investors' primary focus is on how much stock volume owned by AliPay will be unloaded after the IPO as the Chinese giant owns 37.2 million shares, or 28.47 percent of Kakao Pay. AliPay is an online payment platform currently operated by China's Ant Financial.

Regarding the specifics of its business expansion plans beyond the Korean Peninsula, the CEO said Kakao Pay is planning to advance into China, Europe and countries in Southeast Asia, although he didn't specify when and how.

"Kakao Pay is receiving lots of requests for collaboration from countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. We will carefully review suggested business proposals that we've received after the IPO," said the top company executive.

As widely expected, Kakao Pay plans to raise 1.53 trillion won from its IPO after pricing shares at the top of a marketed range. Kakao Pay was backed by Jack Ma's Ant Group just a few months after its sister company KakaoBank raised $2.3 billion in Korea's second-largest IPO so far this year.

When asked about the intended use of funds that will be raised from the IPO, Ryu said most of the amount will be used as a source for acquisitions, buying shares of targeted firms, bolstering assets for digital insurance businesses and operating needs.

He maintained his muted stance toward assessing the government's recent campaign to rein in "Big Tech" companies. The country's top antitrust regulator was taking steps to tighten regulations on the country's fastest-growing online platforms with lawmakers and senior government officials dubbing the homegrown Big Tech companies such Kakao and Naver as symbols of greed.

During this year's National Assembly inspection of government agencies, Kakao and Naver vowed several times to apply much more strengthened measures to resolve concerns over the monopolization of markets and come up with additional plans to help local merchants and partners to survive.

Kakao Pay will receive requests for public stock subscriptions from retail investors from Oct. 25 to 26, following book-building with institutional investors. The listing is set for Nov. 3.


Kim Yoo-chul yckim@koreatimes.co.kr


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