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SoftBank-Backed Ride Startup Seeks at Least $119 Million in IPO

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(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.-backed car-sharing startup Socar Inc. filed for an initial public offering of at least 154.7 billion won ($119 million), testing investor appetite for new tech stocks in an adverse market.

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South Korea’s biggest car-sharing service provider plans to sell 4.55 million new shares at an indicative price range of 34,000 won to 45,000 won apiece, it said in a filing on Friday. The company, which will list on the Korea Exchange on Aug. 18, plans to use the proceeds mainly for acquisitions and to cover operational costs.

The IPO will put the startup’s market capitalization at about 1.2 trillion won to 1.6 trillion won, a company spokesman said. This compares with a 2.4 trillion won valuation calculated based on its 12-month revenue through March and peer comparison, the company said. The discount highlights a growing challenge for startups trying to raise funds as stock markets tumble. The benchmark Kospi is down more than 20% so far this year, heading for its worst year since the 2008 global financial crisis.

But the discount may do little to appease SoftBank shareholders who are desperately looking for signs of recovery in a portfolio awash with red. Anxiety remains high that big write-offs might yet be ahead. A number of SoftBank’s portfolio companies have been forced to restructure or raise funds at lower valuations.

SoftBank Cuts Back Spending, Leaving Startups Desperate for Cash

South Korea was one of the hottest markets for IPOs during the pandemic, but sentiment has deteriorated as markets plunge on worries over global economic growth. Investors are scaling back their investments in startups and showing tepid demand for IPOs, forcing companies including SK Group affiliates to delay or withdraw their listing plans.

SoftBank Ventures Asia, the Japanese technology conglomerate’s investment arm with about $1.9 billion assets under management, bought a minority stake in Socar in 2020. Socar’s major shareholders include SK Inc., SK Group’s holdings company, and Lotte Rental Co.

Socar, which started its business in Jeju Island with about 200 cars in 2011, now boasts a market share of more than 70% in South Korea’s car-sharing market. It has a total of 7.5 million users, which is equivalent to one-fourth of the country’s population with a driver’s license, according to the company’s website.

The IPO will be priced on Aug. 4.

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