[THE INVESTOR] Celebrity chef Baek Jong-won on March 8 confirmed that his company Theborn Korea is indeed pursuing an IPO.
“We’ve chosen a deal manager, and consulting with them for hiring an IR expert and CFO,” Baek told The Investor. “As for the timeline, we haven’t worked on an exact schedule yet.”
This comes in reaction to news reports which suggested that Theborn, a Korea-based restaurant franchise operator, is planning to go public next year.
Celebrity chef Baek Jong-won
Baek added that the reason he decided to get listed is to stop baseless rumors.
“Theborn’s sales are a fraction of industry giants like Starbucks, but because I appear on television, we get a lot of ungrounded bad press. I want to stop it and make things more transparent.”
Many industry watchers have recently noted that it was wrong for Theborn Korea to be categorized as a small and midsized wholesale and retail company. Critics said the company should instead be classified as a restaurant business, which is subject to tougher regulations. The firm had explained at the time that the classification was due to the fact that wholesale and retail sales account for a bulk of its revenues.
Baek also said the IPO was partly to comfort Theborn’s franchisees. “Some of the negative rumors have been causing them a lot of anxiety,” he noted.
As for seeking a bigger overseas presence with the IPO, Baek denied it, saying Theborn already has 100-plus outlets abroad.
Theborn Korea currently operates 1,300 restaurant chains with more than 20 brands. It also has over 100 outlets overseas including in countries such as China, Japan and the US. It recently selected NH Investment & Securities as its IPO deal manager.
In 2016, Theborn’s sales reached 174.9 billion won (US$163.67 million), while its operating profit stood at 19.8 billion won. Baek is the biggest shareholder of Theborn Korea with a 76.69 percent stake.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)