Naver, Kakao’s overseas investments near W1tr this year

By Sohn Ji-young
  • Published : Oct 9, 2018 - 15:36
  • Updated : Oct 9, 2018 - 15:42

South Korea’s largest internet companies Naver and Kakao together invested nearly 1 trillion won ($878 million) in overseas businesses this year, a ninefold growth in foreign investments from the previous year, government-tracked data showed Tuesday.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Science and ICT to Rep. Byun Jae-il of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Naver and Kakao’s overseas investments this year reached 979.7 billion won. This is around 8.8 times bigger than last year’s 111.6 billion won. 

Naver’s investments in global businesses this year totaled around 872.5 billion won, up 8.9 percent from last year’s amount. The biggest contributor was the purchase of convertible bonds worth 751.7 billion won at its Japan-based mobile messaging subsidiary Line in September.

The portal website operator also invested 5.6 billion won in HoneyBook, which operates a business platform for small and midsized companies, as well as 4.5 billion won in e-commerce firm HoneyBook.

Other global investments by Naver include 2.2 billion won each in Southeast Asian co-working space operator Hive International and online shopping platform operator iPrice Group.

Meanwhile, Kakao invested 107.2 billion won in global businesses this year, which is 7.6 times larger than last year’s 14.1 billion won.

In March, Kakao invested around 20 billion won toward forming a new subsidiary in Japan, Kakao G, to spearhead its global businesses including its blockchain platform. In April, it invested around 80 billion won toward financing its manga platform Piccoma in Japan.

The investments come as part of the two companies’ push to fund promising business opportunities abroad in diverse business segments, as they look to expand the scope of their businesses beyond the domestic market.

However, the investment trend has sparked concerns that big companies are less inclined to invest in Korean startups, as many of them are weighed down by regulatory difficulties, stunting their growth potential.

Naver is the operator of Korea’s most-used portal website Naver, as well as the parent company of the Japan-based mobile messenger company Line. Kakao operates KakaoTalk, the country’s dominant mobile messenger, and a slew of popular mobile-based services here.

By Sohn Ji-young (