TMON headquarters in Seoul / Courtesy of TMON
By Park Jae-hyuk
KKR and Anchor Equity Partners, both of which have served as TMON’s two largest shareholders since 2015, have scrapped their plan to list the e-commerce company by the end of this year, notifying the decision to Mirae Asset Securities, which has been handling the deal as its underwriter since last year, according to industry officials, Friday.
TMON attributed the decision to the recent replacements of its top executives, without ruling out the possibility of its listing on the local stock market sometime in the future.
The decision did not come as a surprise to most market insiders, who have continued to raise questions about the two foreign private equity firms’ (PEFs) intention to list their cash-strapped portfolio company.
Doubts have grown further after a series of resignations of TMON’s top executives in recent months. In June, TMON co-CEO Jon In-chon resigned as its director just a month after he was picked as the successor to former CEO Lee Jin-won, who left the company in May. Yoo Han-ik, another former CEO who was serving as the board chairman, also left TMON in June.
As a result, KKR and Anchor have been expected to pursue an exit by selling their controlling stake in TMON to another company, as many other global PEFs did in Korea to avoid difficulties in listing their portfolio companies.
Anchor already flip-flopped on another plan to list another of its portfolio firms here, A Twosome Place, earlier this year, withdrawing the plan last month amid growing doubts about the coffeehouse chain’s valuation. Baring Private Equity Asia also sold Logen to Daemyung Chemical earlier this month, ditching its initial plan to list the logistics firm on the benchmark KOSPI market.
However, it is still unclear whether or not KKR and Anchor can successfully sell TMON at the right moment, because their previous attempts to sell the e-commerce firm to Lotte Group in 2017 and again in 2019 for more than 1 trillion won ($870 million) reportedly ended in failure, due to a different views about its valuation.
The two PEFs acquired a combined 59 percent stake in TMON from Groupon for about 380 billion won in 2015, after jointly forming a special purpose vehicle named Monster Holdings. They have increased their TMON shareholdings to 98.4 percent so far.