LG Energy Solution debuts after $13 trillion frenzy in S.Korea’s biggest IPO

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SEOUL (Reuters) – Shares of battery maker LG Energy Solution Ltd (LGES) debut on Thursday after South Korea’s biggest-ever initial public offering (IPO) attracted bids worth $13 trillion, underscoring upbeat prospects for the electric vehicle industry.

LGES priced its 12.8 trillion won ($10.7 billion) IPO at the top of the range, becoming South Korea’s third most-valuable company after Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF) Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc with a nearly $60 billion market valuation.

Spun out of LG Chem Ltd, the firm commands more than 20% of the global EV battery market and supplies Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc, General Motors Co (NYSE:GM) and Volkswagen AG (OTC:VWAGY) among others.

It sold its shares in the offering at 300,000 won each.

Its trading debut will set the tone for upcoming IPOs in South Korea as retail investors – known as “ants” – have flocked to the stock market with liquidity aided by the government’s stimulus policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is quite tricky to predict LGES’ first-day trading performance, mainly because the market’s recent volatility caused by various factors such as investor concerns over the Federal Reserve and how quickly it will move,” said Park Jung-hoon, fund manager at HDC Asset Management in Seoul.

More than 4.4 million retail investors bid a record 114 trillion won ($95 billion) to subscribe to shares in the IPO, Asia’s largest equity fund raising since Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) raised $12.9 billion in its Hong Kong secondary listing in 2019.

Nearly 2,000 foreign and domestic institutional investors lodged bids worth about $12.8 trillion.

More than 20 companies went public on South Korea’s main board last year, raising about 17 trillion won, nearly double the previous record of 8.8 trillion won raised in 2010, according to bourse operator Korea Exchange.

While LGES’ market value is dwarfed by its bigger Chinese rival Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd’s (CATL) $208 billion market capitalisation, LG Chief Executive Kwon Young-soo has pointed to a 260 trillion won battery order backlog to highlight the company’s growth potential.

Analysts caution LGES will still likely face growing competition as Chinese peers expand into the global market and more automakers seek to develop their own EV battery technologies.

($1 = 1,197.2500 won)

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