#Asia Brief: Games publisher is South Korea’s largest IPO in years, makes founder a billionaire

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The news:

  • Korean games publishing company Netmarble went public on Friday, raising US$2.3 billion, valuing the firm at US$11 billion.
  • The IPO makes a billionaire out of founder Bang Jun-hyuk, who dropped out of high school and didn’t go to university. The IPO values his 24.5 percent stake in Netmarble at US$2.9 billion.
  • Bang founded Netmarble in 2000, then left in 2006 to explore other business ventures. He returned in 2011 to revive it from a series of hardships.

Why it matters:

  • It’s Korea’s largest IPO in years, toppling the recent title holder, Samsung Biologics, which raised US$2 billion for its IPO last November.
  • South Korea is dominated by family-run businesses and manufacturing giants like Samsung. Netmarble’s IPO is a big win for a software company that started from humble beginnings.
  • Tencent has a stake in Netmarble, having invested US$500 million in the firm in 2014. Tencent owns several games companies like Clash of Clans maker Supercell and League of Legends creator Riot Games. It also holds minority stakes in prominent companies like Epic, creator of the Unreal gaming engine.

Source: Bloomberg.

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