[THE INVESTOR] Korea’s largest mobile messenger operator Kakao is considering a Tokyo listing of its Japanese subsidiary in its renewed push for global expansion, a company official revealed on Sept. 5.
“We are considering diverse ways to continue the growth momentum of Kakao Japan,” a spokesperson said. “A Tokyo listing is one of the proposals but nothing has been decided yet.”
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Kakao Japan CEO Kim Jae-yong hinted at the possible local stock debut of the firm’s webtoon platform Piccoma in 2020. The firm is reportedly in talks with Japan’s Nomura for the plans.
“Kakao hasn’t seen this kind of growth before outside Korea,” he said at the Tokyo headquarters. “We have a chance here.”
Piccoma, which debuted in April last year, is fast gaining a footing in the tricky Japanese manga market. The number of daily users has exceeded the 900,000 mark, posing a fresh threat to local rivals such as Line.
Kakao, despite the success of its immensely popular KakaoTalk mobile messenger, has almost no presence in overseas markets. Having seen growth potential in Japan in recent months, its top brass seems to have recently decided on the Tokyo listing.
Kim, who worked for Line before joining Kakao, said in the interview that he aims to drive up the Japanese unit’s monthly revenue to 1 billion yen (US$9.15 million) next year with a new payment model that allows reading comics for free after a time break.
Kakao directly owns an 80 percent stake in Kakao Japan and indirectly holds 20 percent through its subsidiary Podotree, a mobile content platform operator.
Its rival Line, which has grown into the leading mobile messenger in Japan, debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange in July 2016.