Channel NewsAsia

S Korea's top mobile chat app, online portal to merge

South Korea's top messaging service provider, Kakao Corp, and its second largest Internet portal, Daum, announced a merger Monday to create a company with an estimated market value of $3 billion.

SEOUL: South Korea's top messaging service provider, Kakao Corp, and its second largest Internet portal, Daum, announced a merger Monday to create a company with an estimated market value of $3 billion.

Daum Communications, the operator of portal Daum.net, said the merger with Kakao, which runs the hugely popular mobile chat app KakaoTalk, would be completed in October through share swaps.

The move was aimed at "enhancing core businesses and creating business synergy", Daum said in a regulatory filing.

It said the swap ratio had been set at one Daum share for 1.55 Kakao shares.

KakaoTalk is used by more than 140 million people globally, including some 35 million South Koreans -- more than 90 percent of the country's smartphone users.

Founded in 2007, Kakao has not gone public yet, but its shares are traded over the counter in Seoul and it has an estimated market value of two trillion won (US$1.9 billion).

The company's founder Kim Beom-Soo has a controlling 53.6 percent stake in Kakao. Chinese Internet giant Tencent also has a 13.3-percent stake.

Daum -- founded in 1995 -- has some 30 million users and is valued at some one trillion won on Seoul's tech-heavy Kosdaq stock market.

South Korea is one of the world's most wired countries, with 37 million owning a smartphone out of a population of 50 million.

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