Korean travel app Yanolja seeks dual IPO

Yanolja, a popular South Korean travel app, is planning a dual IPO in Korea and overseas. According to Bloomberg, the company is also one of many startups looking for higher IPO valuations from the other side of the water.

Sources connected to Yanolja say the company wants to aim for a value of $ 4 billion or more. For now, however, the company is still keen to explore all of its options; nor has it finalized the size and location of its IPO.

In speaking with Bloomberg News, a representative for Yanolja confirmed that the company is receiving several requests and offers regarding an overseas listing.

“As this could be an opportunity to be recognized as a leading company that has capabilities to manage global business operations and solution technologies, we are open to considering an overseas listing with an introduction in national stock exchange, ”they said.

In November, Korean media reported that Yanolja had chosen Mirae Asset Daewoo as the main underwriter; it also selected Samsung Securities as a joint underwriter for the IPO. In addition, the company hired Choi Chan-seok as the new chief investment officer, a move that would have helped speed up his IPO process.

News of Yanolja’s dual IPO comes soon after Coupang (NYSE: CPNG), South Korea’s largest e-commerce company, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on March 11. Coupang shares rose 40% and ended the day with a market cap of $ 84.47 billion; it is the largest IPO in the United States so far this year.

What is Yanolja?

Yanolja comes from the mind of founder Lee Su-jin. It offers various services for travel, including accommodation, recreation and transportation. In addition, it manages over 10,000 rooms, making it one of the largest franchise operators in Southeast Asia.

Before founding the company in 2005, Lee worked as a housekeeper and valet in a love hotel; Love hotels are a type of short-stay hotel that operates for the purpose of providing guests with privacy for sexual activities.

In 2004, however, an anti-prostitution law was passed in South Korea that threatened to end the romance hotel industry for good. Lee, who has always thanked the love hotel for giving him a stable salary and housing, wanted to help prevent the industry from losing clients. He therefore sought to reinvent the love hotel and to break the stigma that surrounded them.

When Lee first created Yanolja, it started out as an online advertising platform turned into a search portal; this has allowed hotel owners to attract new customers. In 2007, he launched Yanolja as a full booking site and introduced Yanolja renovation services. These services have helped love hotels to clean up their image and target new customers.

Over the past decade, Yanolja has grown in popularity, becoming one of the leading travel booking sites in South Korea. With the success she had in helping love hotels, she began to expand her services to include regular hotels, guest houses, and even the company’s own range of accommodation.

Yanolja has been able to raise around $ 242 million in funding thanks to investors such as GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund and Booking Holdings, which owns Booking.com, KAYAK, Priceline and more. The financing cycle of the company in 2019 gave it a value of $ 1 billion, making Yanolja the eighth “unicorn” in South Korea.

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