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Celltrion votes to move to Kospi

Company may end up ranking 10th, some analysts have projected
Sept 30,2017
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Shareholders of Celltrion cheer the decision to transfer shares of the drug maker to the main bourse Kospi on Friday during a shareholder meeting in Songdo, Incheon. [YONHAP]
The biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion, the largest company by capital listed on the junior bourse Kosdaq, decided to move to the main index, the Kospi, on Friday to squash short-sellers and enhance the stock’s valuations.

The majority of shareholders voted in favor of the transfer during an extraordinary shareholder meeting in Incheon, where a total of 13,324 shareholders holding 51.4 percent of the voting rights showed up.

Combining the votes cast either in person or by written proxy, 50.83 percent of shareholders agreed on the resolution to change the trading board of Celltrion.

The meeting was called after a group of minority investors requested the transfer, citing Kosdaq’s vulnerability to excessive short sales and subsequent fluctuations that are irrelevant with the stock’s business prospects.

Another advantage, they said, is Kospi’s better access to bigger, more credible institutional investors.

Kim Hyeong-gi, CEO of Celltrion, expected that the switch could take place around February, after selecting an adviser this year.

Another question is whether the drug maker has the capital to be included on the Kospi 200 index, which tracks the country’s 200 largest companies.

Inclusion is important because stocks on the Kospi 200 can be listed on futures and options markets and gain access to a wider range of transactions.

A stock can be included in the Kospi 200 when its average market cap is among the top 50 of all Kopsi-listed companies for the first 15 days after listing.

Analysts consider the chances high since Celltrion’s market capitalization is expected to rank the company quite high among Kospi-listed companies.

“In the Kospi 200 list, Celltrion will likely rank 10th,” said Lee Jung-ho, an analyst at KB Securities. “Celltrion’s market cap stood at 17.7 trillion won [$15.5 billion], based on the closing price of Sept. 28, and that size is now among the top 10.”

But entry to the Kospi 200 will take place in March, Lee projected, since it requires approval and procedures from the Korea Exchange, the country’s stock operator.

The transfer to the main bourse could place the drug company within the top 17 in terms of aggregate share value, analysts project.

Seo Jung-jin, Chairman of the pharmaceutical group, also made a surprise appearance at the meeting to announce detailed plans on the moving and future business strategies.

“We are on the look for global merger and acquisition opportunities,” Seo said. “We look for companies with good pipelines and expertise in marketing so that they would better promote our products to other countries.”

The chairman added that Celltrion will build a plant overseas to expand production lines and the site will be decided within the first half of next year.

Shares of Celltrion ended 1.39 percent lower at 142,000 won on Friday.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]