S.Korea digital bank Kakao Bank picks advisors for planned IPO

SEOUL, Dec 17 (Reuters) - South Korean digital bank Kakao Bank Corp has picked advisors for its planned initial public offering (IPO), a spokesman said on Thursday.

Kakao Bank is one of two digital banks in South Korea. It became profitable in 2019 after less than two years of operation, and analysts currently estimate its valuation around 10 trillion won ($9.15 billion).

It chose Credit Suisse and KB Investment & Securities as lead advisors, the spokesman said, with Citigroup as co-advisor.

Kakao Bank reported net profit of 40.6 billion won for the July-September quarter, a seven-fold rise from 5.8 billion won in the same period last year.

It has benefited from an inflow of customers from South Korea’s dominant chat app operator Kakao Corp - a 32% stakeholder - as well as rapid lending growth, higher net interest margins and efforts to increase the proportion of low-cost deposits, said Samsung Securities analyst Kim Jae-woo.

Kakao Bank filings showed it issued shares worth 250 billion won to private equity firm TPG Capital Management LP in October and 250 billion won worth to Anchor Equity Partners in November. That valued the firm at around 9 trillion won.

Kakao Bank has not decided on the timing of its IPO, which analysts expect to be in the latter half of next year.

$1 = 1,092.6400 won Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Christopher Cushing