SoftBank to invest $2 bn in e-commerce firm Coupang

SoftBank Group’ Vision Fund will be investing $2 billion in Coupang, a loss-making e-commerce firm in South Korea, Reuters reported.
SoftBank JapanThe Japan-based SoftBank invested $1 billion in Coupang in 2015. The latest funding values the eight-year-old e-commerce start-up at around $9 billion.

Coupang clocked 2.7 trillion won ($2.4 billion) in revenue last year, with its online sales almost as much as the next three largest e-commerce sites in the country combined, according to research firm Statista.

Coupang reported loss of 1.9 trillion won over the past five years, as it invested funds  into building new technology and its logistics infrastructure.

“The $2 billion we are receiving now is exciting, because we can invest in more technology platforms that enable this innovation,” Coupang founder and chief executive Bom Kim told Reuters.

Coupang says its revenue has doubled in the past year and is now approaching $5 billion in 2018.

The losses incurred in building out large infrastructure and workforce raised questions about whether Coupang can compete long-term, especially against established players like E-Mart and Lotte.

The $1 billion previous investment by SoftBank was marked down by 30 percent to $700 million when it transferred the Coupang stake to the Vision Fund this year.

SoftBank is also injecting an additional $3 billion in loss-making U.S. shared office space provider WeWork Cos, Reuters reported earlier.

South Korea is one of the biggest and fastest-growing e-commerce markets. Its retail e-commerce volume will grow to $32.6 billion by 2021 from $19 billion in 2016, Statista research said.

In January, E-Mart and its parent company Shinsegae announced plans to use $940 million investment from private equity firms to expand their online offerings.