SEOUL -- 2017 is expected to be a big year for initial public offerings in South Korea, with leading online game developer Netmarble Games and the marketing affiliate of biopharmaceutical giant Celltrion likely to attract a few trillion won each.
Another big listing in the works is the hotel unit of Lotte Group. An earlier IPO had been planned, but the idea was put on hold after group Chairman Shin Dong-bin came under investigation by prosecutors for alleged embezzlement and breach of trust. Shin was indicted and the case is pending at a Seoul district court.
Bourse operator Korea Exchange said that last month it gave the green light to Netmarble to list. The company is growing quickly thanks to its extensive lineup of games, including such titles as "Lineage II Revolution" and "Seven Knights." For the first half of 2016, Netmarble posted sales of 678 billion won ($568.5 million), an operating profit of 112.1 billion won and a net profit of 87.2 billion won.
Celltrion Healthcare, the marketing and sales affiliate of Celltrion, applied to list on the Kosdaq market last month. The company has retail channels in more than 50 countries, selling Celltrion's three key biosimilar drugs.
Among those products, Remsima, an anti-inflammatory, has been gaining popularity in Europe since it was approved by the authorities there in 2013. In April 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved sales of the medicine in the world's largest drug market, paving the way for further growth.
Celltrion Healthcare had assets of 1.8 trillion won in September, including 548.5 billion won in capital. For the first three quarters of last year, it posted a net profit of 20.6 billion won on sales of 320.3 billion won.
Other high-profile listings on track for 2017 are the two affiliates of Korea Electric Power Corp. -- Korea South-East Power Co. and Korea East-West Power Co. One will list in the first half, and the other in the second. Which company will list first has not been decided.
Last year, four Chinese companies -- all based in Hong Kong -- listed on the Kosdaq market despite Beijing's decision to impose economic sanctions on Seoul over South Korea's decision to deploy a U.S. missile defense system on its soil.