Coupang, the Amazon of South Korea, debuts on NYSE

AP Technology

FILE – American flags hang outside of the New York Stock Exchange, in this Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, file photo. Stocks are starting higher on Wall Street with an assist from technology companies, which have seen big swings in recent days. The S&P 500 index was up 0.7% in the early going Thursday, March 11, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 1.7%. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

The biggest IPO in years is rolling out Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange where Coupang, the South Korean equivalent of Amazon in the U.S., or Alibaba in China, will begin trading under the ticker “CPNG.”

It’s actually the largest initial public offering from an Asian company since Alibaba went public about seven years ago. And it’s the biggest in the U.S. since Uber raised more than $8 billion in 2019.

Coupang has raised about $4.6 billion, outsizing last month’s $2 billion capital raise by the dating app Bumble.

Coupang priced 130 million shares at $35 each, valuing the company at about $60 billion, according to regulatory filings.

That big price tag reflects the recognition of how vastly the pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping.

Amazon’s fourth-quarter revenue shattered records, blowing past the $100 billion level for the first time, to reach $125.56 billion. Target and Walmart have also aggressively pushed into online sales. Target said this month that online sales soared 118% during the critical holiday quarter.

That has helped to push Coupang’s asking price for a share higher, from the initial range of between $27 and $30, to between $32 and $34, and now $35 each. The company also bumped up the number of shares it is offering because of strong demand by 10 million, for a total of 130 million shares.

Revenue growth at Coupang has been explosive, jumping from $900 million in the first quarter of 2018, to $3.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Coupang says it’s already the third-largest employer in Korea, adding almost 25,000 new jobs last year. Its goal is to create 50,000 new jobs in Korea by 2025.

Like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Coupang’s founder and CEO Bom Suk Kim will hold all of the company’s outstanding Class B shares. That will represent about 76.7% of the voting power.

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