Deals - Asia

South Korea's Kakao Games shares soar 30% in market debut

SEOUL (Reuters) - Kakao Games Corp shares soared 30% on debut on Thursday, boosted by investors betting on companies expected to benefit from people staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The stock debuted on Seoul’s junior stock market at 48,000 won, double the IPO price, valuing the company at 3.5 trillion won ($2.95 billion).

The gaming unit of South Korea’s biggest mobile messaging operator Kakao Corp priced its IPO last month at the top of its indicative range, reflecting strong demand for gaming stocks as people bunker down at home to avoid the virus.

In early morning trade, the stock rose as much as 30% from its opening price to 62,400 won, compared with a 1.4% rise in the junior KOSDAQ.

The IPO was one of the most highly anticipated offerings in South Korea this year.

“The social distancing measures have prompted people to seek entertainment options to keep themselves occupied and gaming offers just that,” said Kim Dong-hee, an analyst at Meritz Securities.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Jihoon Lee