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First-generation e-commerce platform Interpark up for sale

Interpark seeks new owner, following footsteps of eBay Korea

July 13, 2021 - 15:10 By Yim Hyun-su
South Korea’s first-generation e-commerce platform Interpark, which gained popularity as an online book store and a ticket sales platform, is now up for sale.

The company has confirmed reports that it had tapped security firm NH Investment & Securities to oversee the sale though no final decisions have been made.

Multiple reports have said the firm is seeking to sell 28.41 percent of its shares, currently owned by CEO Lee Ki-hyung and affiliated persons.

With its market capitalization standing at around 456.3 billion won ($389.6 million) and management rights, the shares being sold are estimated to be worth between 150 and 170 billion won, according to industry sources.

Following the news, its shares enjoyed a jump in price, up 28.5 percent at one point on Tuesday.

The move is seen as a sign of the demise of first-generation e-commerce platforms in the country following the sale of eBay Korea to Shinsegae Group.

In a $3 billion deal announced in June, Emart, Shinsegae’s supermarket arm, acquired 80 percent of eBay Korea’s shares.

With the country’s online retail industry dominated by Naver and Coupang, the acquisition of the third-largest e-commerce operator is set to boost physical retail giant Shinsegae’s e-commerce business and reshape the market.

Interpark – a portmanteau of internet and theme park -- opened as the country’s first online retail website 1996 and first grew as an online book store before branching out into concert and tour booking.

But its market share took a hit following its sale of Gmarket to eBay Korea in 2008.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit the tourism and entertainment sectors, its revenue was down 7.1 percent at 3.1 trillion won last year, suffering an operating loss of 11.2 billion won.

Its operating loss during the first quarter of this year was 6 billion won.