By Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee
SEOUL (Reuters) -LG Energy Solution (LGES) is likely to raise up to 12.8 trillion won ($10.87 billion) in what could be South Korea’s biggest initial public offering as the battery maker seeks funds to expand and meet booming demand for EV batteries.
Even at the low end of its pricing range, LG looks set to top the country’s largest listing to date, Samsung Life Insurance’s 4.9 trillion won IPO in 2010.
“Through this IPO, we are preemptively responding to the demand for the lithium-ion battery market, which is expected to see rapid growth,” LGES Chief Executive Officer Kwon Young Soo said in a statement.
LGES is LG Chem Ltd’s wholly owned battery subsidiary and supplies Tesla Inc, General Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co, among others.
It expects to offer 34 million new shares in an indicative range of 257,000 to 300,000 won per share, it said in a regulatory filing.
LG Chem plans to offer 8.5 million existing shares in the same price range, according to a separate filing.
In this range, LGES’ valuation would be as much as 70.2 trillion won ($59.55 billion), the company said in a statement.
The IPO could make it South Korea’s third most valuable company after Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc yet analysts still said the valuation was underrated.
“It’s too cheap,” said Rho Woo-ho, analyst at Meritz Securities, adding that LGES’ production capacity target for 2025 is similar to that of its bigger Chinese rival Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL).
CATL’s market cap is currently about 1.6 trillion yuan ($251.28 billion).
“I think they lowered the price range on purpose, first to build a market consensus that it’s good value, and second, because (parent) LG Chem intends to hold on to about an 80% stake, the amount of traded shares will be very small, which will drive up demand and the share price.”
The pricing is expected to be finalised in mid-January, with a listing in Seoul expected later that month.
South Korea is seeing its hottest IPO market on record this year. More than 20 companies have gone public on the main KOSPI market, raising about 17 trillion won, beating the 8.8 trillion won raised in 2010, the biggest year on record, according to the Korea Exchange.
Global EV sales, estimated at 2.5 million vehicles in 2020, are forecast to grow more than 12-fold to 31.1 million by 2030 and account for nearly a third of new vehicle sales, according to consulting firm Deloitte.
KB Securities and Morgan Stanley will lead the proposed deal. Bank of America, Citigroup, Daishin Securities, Goldman Sachs and Shinhan Investment Corp have also been appointed as bookrunners.
($1 = 1,177.0600 won)
($1 = 6.3673 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Scott Murdoch; Editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely)