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[Herald Interview] NYSE hopes to see more Korean firms listing in US

‘Innovative’ S. Korean companies are ready to scale up to become global, NYSE executive says

Alexandre L. Ibrahim, head of international capital markets at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE Group)
Alexandre L. Ibrahim, head of international capital markets at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE Group)
E-commerce giant Coupang’s application this month to list on the New York Stock Exchange has given hope to Korean firms dreaming of listing on the “big board.”

If Coupang’s initial public offering is successful, it will be the first Korean direct listing on the NYSE, and its attempt, often headlined as “the largest IPO by a foreign company after Alibaba,” has been drawing attention around the world.

But the NYSE does not want to stop at Coupang. Alexandre L. Ibrahim, head of international capital markets at the exchange, told The Korea Herald that the door is open for more innovative Korean firms to list on the exchange as they look to go global.

“We work with companies with all over the world. Asia for us is a very important market. We started to see activities in the Southeast Asia, companies in South Korea could be considering the US listing in the near future and hopefully they will engage with us,” Ibrahim said.

Pointing out that tech-oriented South Korean companies, not just Samsung, have been a key growth vehicle for Asia’s fourth-largest economy, Ibrahim said they are ready to scale up to become global.

“(We hope to see) more companies from Korea near future listing in the US through the NYSE,” he said.

Although the stock exchange’s requirements for listing are considered relatively complex compared to other global operators, many global firms chose the NYSE for listing as they seek a bigger market.

The stock exchange’s unique environment and flexibility in transactions have also been major attractions, Ibrahim said.

“Our market model is very unique, not only compared to Nasdaq but any other exchanges around the world. We still have a trading floor, where we have our technology interacting with humans to provide our (listed) companies to be traded better,” he said.

“We’ve become the exchange for technology companies. For the companies that are actually changing the world that we live in, companies like DoorDash, electronic vehicle firm like China‘s Nio, a fintech company from Brazil … we have this amazing ecosystem with high-growth entrepreneur companies in market. Those elements make our market attractive.”

The NYSE was the No. 1 market in the world last year in terms of capital raised through IPOs and special purpose acquisition company listings, he added.

While Coupang submitted its documents to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company still has to go through the NYSE’s evaluation process to qualify for the IPO.

It varies depending on how complex the filing is, but the process takes about two months on average, since the SEC and NYSE simultaneously go over the evaluation, Ibrahim said.

After the e-commerce giant’s long-awaited IPO plan was made public, some market watchers and media around the world spotlighted Coupang as the “Amazon of South Korea.” But questions have been raised by some on the nationality of Coupang as the company submitted an S-1 instead of an F-1 filing.

An S-1 filing is used by domestic entities, and an F-1 filing is for foreign private issuers, according to the NYSE’s definition.

Coupang’s operations are centered in South Korea, but the entity seeking the US market debut is its US-registered parent company, Coupang Inc., previously known as Coupang LLC.

Several local investment banking sources told The Korea Herald that it was accurate to see the listing planned company as a “US firm operating a business through its subsidiary based in Korea,” citing the information on the Delaware-based Coupang Inc.’s filing.

Although refusing to comment specifically on Coupang’s case, the NYSE executive stressed all companies were put on an equal regulatory footing, whether they are registered in the US or overseas.

Although the filing forms may differ between domestic and private issuers, the Nasdaq and the NYSE basically have no differences in regulatory requirements for them, he said.

After joining the NYSE in 2000, Ibrahim has been responsible for attracting new listings from around the world -- including Asia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America -- and managing the stock exchange’s relationship with hundreds of companies based outside of the US in the NYSE’s listed community of leading companies.

He also advises private companies, private equity firms, venture capitalists, investment bankers, legal and government communities and other exchanges on the IPO landscape, relevant issues, the NYSE initiatives and listing venue choices.

The NYSE-listed firms’ combined market capitalization came in at nearly $28.2 trillion as of October last year.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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