Game maker Krafton targets up to $5 bln in S.Korea's biggest IPO

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  • Krafton estimates valuation at 35 trln won
  • Listing expected in July
  • 2021 seeing many large S.Korean IPOs

SEOUL, June 16 (Reuters) - Krafton Inc, the South Korean company behind blockbuster video game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds", said on Wednesday its IPO would raise up to 5.6 trillion won ($5 billion) at the top of an indicative range, which would be a record for the country.

Tencent-backed Krafton said in a regulatory filing it expected to offer 10 million shares, or 7 million new shares and 3 million existing shares, at an indicative range of 458,000-557,000 won per share.

At the top of the range, this would be South Korea's largest listing, beating Samsung Life Insurance's (032830.KS) 4.9 trillion won IPO in 2010. read more

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The pricing is expected to be decided in the coming weeks, with listing expected in July.

Krafton's online multiplayer war-fighting game PUBG has sold 25 million copies on PC and game consoles, becoming one of the fastest-selling games since its launch in 2017.

Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent (0700.HK) is currently Krafton's second-largest shareholder with a 15.35% stake through an investment vehicle, according to a regulatory filing.

Krafton is planning to release two new games this year based on the PUBG intellectual property (IP), including mobile game "PUBG: New State" and "Battlegrounds Mobile India" targeting the Indian market.

Merchandising products are pictured at the PUBG Global Invitational 2018, the first official esports tournament for the computer game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds in Berlin, Germany, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

The company is also expanding to areas such as web-based cartoons, movies and animation, and developing a deep learning, AI business model targeting consumers.

It reported 1.67 trillion won in revenue in 2020, and its operating profit more than doubled from the previous year to 774 billion won.

The company estimated its valuation at 35 trillion won, at a price-to-earnings ratio of 45.2, which is slightly lower than South Korean game industry peers NCSoft (036570.KS) and Netmarble (251270.KS), according to its filing.

Mirae Asset Securities is lead advisor for the IPO, while Credit Suisse, NH Investment & Securities, Citigroup and JP Morgan are also advisors.

South Korea is experiencing its hottest IPO market on record with analysts expecting at least 20 trillion won to be raised in 2021, or about four times above 2020 levels. read more

"This year is unprecedented in the concentration of huge new listings on the KOSPI with market capitalisations that range from trillions of won to tens of trillions of won," said Choi Jong-kyung, analyst at Heungkuk Securities.

($1 = 1,117.1400 won)

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Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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