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Hybe announces deal to become biggest shareholder in rival K-pop powerhouse

By | Published on Friday 10 February 2023


South Korean entertainment firm Hybe has announced a deal to buy a 14.8% stake in rival K-pop company SM Entertainment. The deal comes amid a growing rift between the founder of SM Entertainment and its management team.

Hybe is best known as the home of BTS, of course, although other South Korean artists it works with include Seventeen, Tomorrow X Together and Enhypen. SM Entertainment has the likes of EXO, Red Velvet, NCT and Aespa on its roster.

The big deal announced today – worth around $335.8 million – will see Hybe acquire shares in SM Entertainment from the latter’s founder Lee Soo-man. And it will make Hybe the biggest shareholder in SM Entertainment overall.

In a joint statement, Lee and Hybe founder Bang Si-hyuk said of the alliance between the two K-pop powerhouses that “we decided to collaborate to achieve our shared vision of upgrading K-pop’s global competitiveness”.

However, the management team over at SM Entertainment don’t seem to share Lee’s excitement about the Hybe deal. They announced an alliance earlier this week with Kakao, the internet company that has its own entertainment business and operates South Korean music streaming service Melon.

Lee isn’t happy with the Kakoa partnership – and the SM Entertainment management team seem equally unhappy about his share dealings with Hybe. So, that’s all good fun isn’t it?

Hybe’s bid to become the biggest shareholder in another K-pop business follows the news earlier this week that it’s US division is buying hip hop label Quality Control Music.