PYONGYANG — This morning, the Ministry of Cooperative Equity Issuance, in conjunction with the Central Economic Bureau of the Citizens’ Banking Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), announced the official initial public offering filing for KimDex, the nation’s first new technology IPO since 1999. North Korea’s leading social media site announced its intention to tap the capital markets with a stock offering later this spring, upon the conditional approval of the People’s Trading and Funding Tribunal and the National Communal Credit and Commercial Banking Oversight Task Force.
KimDex, which is expected to raise up to $670 million USD upon the pricing its offering, has just under 25 million monthly active users (MAU), or roughly 100% of its total addressable market (TAM) according to people familiar with the situation. Since its founding in early January, the company has been led by Hyun Jin-Park, a cousin and close confidant of Kim Jong-un, First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, Comptroller General of the Chongjin International Mens Basketball Conference, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, and presidium member of the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
Mr. Jong-un is said to be highly influential in company matters and has the single most-followed and favorited account on KimDex by a factor of ten. “He is superstar on KimDex.com,” one analyst told TRB by encrypted chat, “He is like the Ashton Kutcher.”
Pyongyang-based KimDex surprised international finance professionals with its decision to list its shares in the United States, following in the footsteps of its larger Chinese rival, Alibaba. Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange executives declined to make themselves available for this story, although both are said to be courting high-level officials of the CEB of the CBC of the DPRK ahead of the company’s planned roadshow.
Morgan Stanley and Citigroup are said to have the inside track as lead underwriters according to sources, although there is talk that JPMorgan may be willing to hire the children of several DPRK politburo officials to seal the deal.
Citigroup declined comment, citing the traditional IPO quiet period, while Morgan Stanley’s North Korean bureau chief pledged to waive all underwriting fees and prayed for the safe return of his family.
Enthusiasm for the KimDex offering has been building on Wall Street since the announcement was made via missile launch over the Sea of Japan. “I think it’s like a cloud play or something to do with, like, mobile advertising,” one hedge fund manager was quoted as saying in between lap dances at Beamers in Stamford, Connecticut. “Whatever, I’ll just flip it on the opening pop, I don’t even know where East Korea is. Get me another Tito’s and tonic.”
Sentiment for the deal around the investment management industry has ranged from rank cynicism to caustic indifference, but everyone the TRB has spoken with intends to participate. “What’s the difference, stop calling me,” said one portfolio manager with the NCAA games blaring in the background.
Upon completion of its initial public offering, KimDex will still be majority owned by the People’s Investing Commission, a US-domiciled holding company called Rodman Enterprises and by Kim Jong-un himself, who is said to control approximately 120% of all shares outstanding.