HYBE, Kakao, and CJ Entertainment are reportedly bidding to acquire shares in SM Entertainment.
Over the past couple of months, SM Entertainment's founder Lee Soo Man is said to have been in the process of selling his shares in the entertainment company in an effort to increase SM's corporate value. Currently, Lee is the company's largest shareholder, owning an 18.75% stake.
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Lee's company shares are projected to be valued at a total of KRW 2.5 trillion to 4 trillion (USD 2.2 billion to 3.5 billion), and is said to be worth approximately KRW 470 billion (USD 41 million).
According to media reports, several companies have attempted to negotiate a deal to acquire Lee's shares, including Korean entertainment giants Kakao, CJ ENM, and HYBE.
Kakao, which houses the country's largest messaging service, is said to be the current frontrunner of the bid, offering KRW 2.5 trillion. HYBE, home to the likes of BTS, TXT, and SEVENTEEN, reportedly offered a higher price but was turned down by SM Entertainment for undisclosed reasons.
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Home to acts like EXO, NCT, SHINee, aespa, and Red Velvet, SM Entertainment currently controls 20% of Korea's entertainment market, just behind HYBE who controls around 33%. The company houses several subsidiaries, including mobile development firm DEAR U, artist management Mystic Story, lifestyle company SM Life Design Group, and more.