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Naver’s Webtoon Entertainment Targets US IPO in Strategic Expansion Move

Webtoon Entertainment aims for a US stock market debut, eyeing up to $500 million in a move to bolster its global digital comics empire
South Korea
n 035420.KO Blue Chip 150 Tech 350
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South Korea’s Naver Corp. is setting the stage for its Los Angeles-based affiliate, Webtoon Entertainment Inc., to make a splash on the US stock market as early as June, marking a significant step in the company’s ambition to dominate the global digital comics scene. With Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley at the helm as lead managers, Webtoon Entertainment is gearing up for an initial public offering that could value the company between $3 billion and $4 billion.

This move comes as part of Naver’s long-term strategy to cement its position in major markets, with the US being a critical focus. Since 2021, Naver has been contemplating this IPO, aligning with the rising popularity of digital comics worldwide. The decision to go public has been buoyed by Webtoon Entertainment’s recent financial performance, showcasing a promising turnaround with positive EBITDA in 2023, meeting the prerequisites for its US market debut.

Webtoon Entertainment, the umbrella company for Naver’s extensive digital comics operations, including the leading platform Naver Webtoon Ltd., and other subsidiaries in Japan and Canada, has been a pioneer in transforming webtoons into mainstream entertainment. The planned IPO is not just a financial milestone but also a testament to Naver’s expansive vision, which includes adapting popular webtoons into films and drama series, further blurring the lines between traditional and digital entertainment mediums.

The company’s global influence is already evident with successful adaptations like Netflix’s ‘Bloodhounds,’ and the anticipated release of “The 8 Show,” based on popular Korean webtoons, expected to replicate the success of “Squid Game.” This strategic move to list in the US reflects Webtoon Entertainment’s confidence in its innovative content and its potential to captivate a global audience, promising a new era for digital comics and storytelling.

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