The year’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) in South Korea is not from the energy sector like last year—it is from the future, and in particular, robotics.
Making money investing in Japanese robotics companies like FANUC
Doosan Robotics Inc., which specializes in the making of robots that serve beer, prepare coffee, and deep-fry chicken, debuted on the Seoul stock exchange on Oct. 5, raising $312 million.
Driven by its potential to shape the future of factories, the shares roughly doubled from $19.29 to $38.13 on their first day of trading. Intraday fluctuations reached as high as 160%.
South Korea tops the world in robot adoption
Founded in 2015, Doosan prides itself as a leading maker of collaborative robots (or “cobots,” in the industry parlance) and is riding on South Korea’s tech backbone to attract investors. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), South Korea leads the world in robot density in the manufacturing industry. In 2021, it had 1,000 industrial robots per 10,000 workers in the country, IFR data shows.
By 2017, Doosan Robotics had the capacity to build more than 10,000 cobots a year at its 4,451-square-meter factory in the Suwon Industrial Complex in Gyeonggi province. Besides being deployed in bars and restaurants in Seoul, Doosan’s robots also work alongside humans at airports to move luggage faster.
Doosan Robotics is now leveraging generative artificial intelligence to make the robots more useful, after striking a deal with Microsoft for a GPT-based robot control system. This could allow a robot to complete a task without any human assistance, beyond a simple voice command.
Doosan’s IPO is helping the market recover
The South Korean tech market has witnessed solid market debutants in the past, but most of them have struggled to stay above their issue price. While there has also been a decline in amounts raised by new companies in the country, Doosan’s IPO is already helping the market recover.
Doosan reported $33.3 million in revenue in 2022, evenly distributed between North America, Europe, and South Korea. Chief executive Ryu Junghoon said proceeds from the IPO will be used to acquire robotics firms specializing in mobility, and expand the company’s global presence. “This is a market that’s starting to take off,” Junghoon told Bloomberg. “It’s possible more companies will emerge in this space.”
A July report by Markets and Markets indicated the global cobot market, where Doosan competes with the likes of Denmark’s Universal Robots and Japan’s Fanuc, could reach $6.8 billion by 2029, up from $1.2 billion this year.
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