South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang Corp. is preparing for an initial public offering as soon as 2021, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The Seoul-based company, founded in 2010 by Chief Executive Officer Bom Kim and said to be valued at $9 billion in late 2018, has begun working on tax structuring among other changes as it eyes a public listing next year, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. A company representative declined to comment.
Last month, Coupang — which is backed by investors including SoftBank Group Corp.’s giant Vision Fund, BlackRock and Sequoia Capital — appointed Alberto Fornaro as the chief financial officer to succeed Richard Song. Earlier in 2019, it hired Jay Jorgensen, a former Walmart Inc. executive, as general counsel and chief compliance officer.
In November 2018, the Vision Fund invested $2 billion in the company in a deal that valued Coupang at $9 billion, people familiar with the matter said at the time. That funding followed $1 billion from SoftBank itself in 2015, valuing the startup at about $5 billion.
Korea’s e-commerce market is the fifth-largest in the world and on track to be the third-largest by 2021, behind only China and the U.S., according to Coupang.
Coupang — whose app has been downloaded more than 25 million times — had more than $10 billion in gross merchandise value on its platform as of Dec. 31, according to a person familiar with the company. Sales increased more than 60% year-over-year in 2019, the person said.