(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

Loading...

Load Error

The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari fell 0.2% in Tokyo on Tuesday. A gain of just 3.3% in the next trading session would see it match the 6,000 yen high.

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

It’s even more unusual for being a Japanese startup that is starting to see success on its app outside of its home

(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

Loading...

Load Error

The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

It’s even more unusual for being a Japanese startup that is starting to see success on its app outside of its home country. The pandemic was a boon to its U.S. operations, which saw gross merchandise value (GMV) jump almost threefold in the quarter ended June from

(Bloomberg) — South Korea’s government has found a tool to keep the retail investors that are increasingly dominating the stock market happy: A short-selling ban that’s turning into one of the world’s longest and broadest.

Loading...

Load Error

In August, the government extended the ban the country imposed in March for another half a year, much to the consternation of institutional investors needing to short sell to manage risks. That ban was prolonged even though the benchmark Kospi has soared more than 60% since its March swoon. The extension makes the ban one of the longest by any major market in the wake of Covid-19.

The rationale for this continued ban lies with the increasing importance of individual investors, who make up 70% of the stock market now, according to analysts and regulators.

The dilemma for Seoul is that with so many mom-and-pop investors entering the market this year, reintroducing short selling could cause a crash and upset an electorate that’s increasingly invested in the stock market’s performance.

Korean regulators are now discussing a partial lift of the extended ban when it expires on March 15: Only blue chip-stocks could be allowed to be sold short, a senior official who isn’t authorized to speak publicly told Bloomberg. The Financial Services Commission, a regulator overseeing Korea’s short-selling rules, declined to comment on the issue.



chart: South Korea's stock market rose while others with short-sell bans fell


© Bloomberg
South Korea’s stock market rose while others with short-sell bans fell

The ban has frustrated institutional investors, both local and foreign, who have been put off from investing in South Korea. Their trading value has dwindled to just 35% of the Kospi’s total versus 52% at the end of 2019, according to the Korea Exchange. Institutional investors also have to battle a perception that short-selling can be used to manipulate the market, especially after the government