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Robot Maker Doubles in Debut After Biggest 2023 South Korea IPO

Robot Maker Doubles in Debut After Biggest 2023 South Korea IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Doosan Robotics Inc. nearly doubled in its trading debut in Seoul after raising 421 billion won ($312 million) in South Korea’s largest initial public offering this year.

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Shares of the robot maker closed their first day 98% higher at 51,400 won, after surging as much as 160% intraday. The company, with Seoul-listed Doosan Co. as its biggest shareholder, last month sold 16.2 million shares at 26,000 won each, the top of a marketed price range.

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The debut signals strong investor appetite for the sector in tech-savvy South Korea, which is the world’s top robot adopter, employing 10 manufacturing workers for every industrial robot. Shares in robotics makers were among the country’s most sought after this year as the government and local companies, including Samsung Electronics Co., stepped up investments.

Shares in parent Doosan Co., which had jumped in the run up to the unit’s much-awaited listing, plunged 19% Thursday, the most since March 2020. Its stake in Doosan Robotics fell to 68.2% from 90.9% before the IPO. Kosdaq-listed startup Rainbow Robotics and stocks of other robotics companies that had surged recently on domestic demand also dropped Thursday.

Read: Beer-Serving Robots Drive Robust Demand for Korea’s Biggest IPO

Companies that raised at least $100 million in new share sales in South Korea over the past five years jumped by an average 57% in their first day of trade, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Apart from Doosan Robotics, Fadu Inc. is the only other company to have raised more than that amount this year through an initial public offering in Seoul.

“The local IPO market is definitely seeing a recovery,” said An Hyungjin, a fund manager at Billionfold Asset Management. “There were expectations that the stock would at least double as the robotics theme was getting a huge attention.”

Founded in 2015, Doosan Robotics specializes in making robotic arms that work alongside humans on tasks beyond factory floors. The machines have been deployed in a wide range of services from making coffee and deep-fried chicken to serving beer and handling luggage at an airport.

Doosan Robotics plans to use the IPO proceeds for strategic acquisitions and overseas expansion, Chief Executive Officer Ryu Junghoon said in an interview. It’s considering buying a firm with technology that could give robots mobility, he added. The company garnered sales of 45 billion won in 2022 from customers including Hyundai Motor Co. and LG Electronics Inc.

Mirae Asset Securities Co. and Korea Investment & Securities Co. are lead-managers of the IPO.

--With assistance from Shinhye Kang.

(Updates with closing share prices in the second and fourth paragraphs)

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