HYBE aims for US market acquisitions after pullout from SM Entertainment bid

HYBE aims for US market acquisitions after pullout from SM Entertainment bid
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Daniel Anderson
March 16, 2023
K-pop entertainment company HYBE is looking to increase its footprint in the U.S. entertainment market through multiple acquisitions and investments, according to founder and chairman Bang Si-hyuk.
Bang cautioned that the K-pop industry is experiencing a slowdown, and key players need to broaden their offerings to remain competitive, particularly with BTS on a break and its members carrying out their mandatory military enlistments
“Without BTS, the market drastically shrinks in size,” said Bang. He did not specify the number or nature of the transactions, but he indicated that there would be a “significant number” by the end of the year.
His announcement comes on the heels of HYBE’s withdrawal from further acquisition of rival K-pop company SM Entertainment. 
The company backed down “after observing that the market has been showing signs of overheating due to competition with both Kakao and Kakao Entertainment” and noting that going forward with the acquisition would tarnish shareholder value. 
HYBE has a 14.8% stake in SM Entertainment after buying ousted founder Lee Soo-man’s shares. SM’s CEO and CFO have called HYBE’s actions a “hostile takeover” and retaliated with a series of videos accusing Lee Soo-man of unethical practices. 
As of now, internet tech giant Kakao is slated to become SM Entertainment’s largest shareholder after offering nearly $1 billion to buy 35% of the company’s shares.
Meanwhile, HYBE does have some holding in the U.S. market. In April 2021, HYBE America, a subsidiary of HYBE, announced a $1 billion merger with Ithaca Holdings, which manages popular artists like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande under the guidance of Scooter Braun.
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