South Korean entertainment group iHQ has bought a 51.42% stake in content provider YTN Media for $17.6 million, giving it control over cable/satellite channels ComedyTV and the entertainment-themed YTN Star.
Former main shareholder YTN will retain 11.93% of shares. The deal was funded by an issue of $18 million in convertible bonds on Dec. 15.
In local press reports Jung Hoon-tack, CEO of iHQ, said YTN Media would offer extra windows for the company’s growing content divisions and its talent management arm SidusHQ.
Nonetheless, many observers suspect South Korea’s top telco SK Telecom is behind the buy-up. It holds a 21.66% stake in iHQ as well as a call option for April, which could see it become the company’s leading shareholder.
As South Korea moves quickly towards the delivery of films and other content to mobile phones, the top three mobile operators SK Telecom, KTF and LG Telecom have all taken an increased interest in various segments of the entertainment industry.