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Kakao Buys 44% of HYBE’s SM Entertainment Shares, Increasing Stake to 40%

HYBE still owns an 8.8% stake in the competing K-pop company after Kakao purchased an additional 1.66 million of its shares.

Kakao Corp. and its subsidiary, Kakao Entertainment, increased their share of K-pop company SM Entertainment to 39.9% from 4.9% after purchasing 1.66 million shares from HYBE. That left HYBE with 54% of its shares in SM Entertainment, according to a Tuesday (March 28) regulatory filing.


HYBE sold its 1.66 million SM shares for 248.8 billion won ($191.8 million), or 150,000 won ($115.62) per share, leaving it with an 8.8% stake in SM Entertainment. HYBE had planned to sell its entire stake, the company said in a Friday filing, but it did not offload all of its shares during Kakao’s tender offer. Now that the battle for control of SM is over, HYBE’s remaining stake in SM is worth less than its purchase price. With Kakao’s tender having expired on Sunday and SM shareholders no longer able to sell at a premium, SM’s share price dropped 15% to 91,100 ($70.23) won on Monday and improved slightly to 94,300 won ($72.70) on Tuesday.

SM Entertainment, home to such K-pop acts as NCT-127 and Red Velvet, is partnering with Kakao Corp. and Kakao Entertainment to expand globally as it reorganizes following a split with its founder, Lee Soo-man. Kakao Entertainment owns K-pop group Monsta X’s label, Starship Entertainment, as well as the Korean music streaming platform Melon.

HYBE acquired about 3.5 million SM shares from Lee at 120,000 won per share, according to a Feb. 10 regulatory filing. After flirting with a campaign to take board seats and some operational control in SM, HYBE changed course and conceded to Kakao on March 13. “Proceeding with a higher tender offer [to beat Kakao’s bid] may have in turn caused a negative impact on our shareholders and we also judged it may have further overheated the market,” HYBE said in a statement at the time. The company had hoped to acquire an additional 25% stake in SM at 120,000 won ($92.51) per share, but its tender offer fizzled and increased its stake from 14.8% to just 15.8%.