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SoftBank's stake in Coupang said to value firm at US$5b

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SoftBank Corp's investment in Coupang values the South Korean online retailer at about 5.5 trillion won (US$5 billion), according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

[SEOUL] SoftBank Corp's investment in Coupang values the South Korean online retailer at about 5.5 trillion won (US$5 billion), according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The valuation follows SoftBank's agreement to invest US$1 billion in Coupang, the person said, asking not to be identified because they aren't authorized to talk publicly. The deal will close at the start of July, SoftBank said in a statement Wednesday without disclosing a valuation.

SoftBank, led by billionaire Masayoshi Son, has been looking to replicate the success of its investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which started with a US$20 million stake 15 years ago. That is now worth US$72 billion, helping Japan's second-richest man conclude deals with India's Snapdeal.com and Indonesia's Tokopedia.

"This is one of the ways to become the No. 1 Internet company in the world," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities Co. "Consumption of e-commerce is increasing in the world, and SoftBank will make similar investments in other regions." The company, which is Japan's third-largest wireless carrier, will buy new shares issued by Coupang, said Mitsuhiro Kurano, a spokesman at SoftBank. The company declined to disclose the percentage of Coupang's shares it will own after the purchase. Coupang declined to comment on its valuation in an e-mail.

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SoftBank fell 1.2 percent to 7,348 yen at the close in Tokyo on Thursday, compared with a 0.2 per cent gain in the benchmark Topix. The shares have risen 1.9 per cent this year, trailing the index's 19 per cent gain.

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