China’s Huayi Buys 26% of Korean Talent Agency SIM Entertainment

The Priests
Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

Huayi Brothers Media, China’s leading film studio, has bought a 26% stake in South Korean talent management firm SIM Entertainment.

Making the investment through its music subsidiary, Huayi is paying $19.5 million (RMB127 million) for just over a quarter of SIM, which listed its shares on the KOSDAQ exchange in September last year.

SIM represents top tier actors including Kim Yoon-seok (“The Priests”,) Yoo Hae-jin (Veteran”,) Joo Won (“Fatal Intuition”) and rising actress Lim Ji-yeon (“The Treacherous”.)

The move is expected to lead to a higher degree of cooperation between the two companies, with exchange of talent, game developers and production capacity flowing in both directions.

The SIM move follows the recent acquisition by Huayi of a leading position in Jiuhao Health, a listed company in Hong Kong that will become a prime vehicle for Huayi’s overseas expansion. Jiuhao, which also counts Chinese Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba among its backers, is soon to be renamed Huayi Tencent Entertainment. Huayi said that it may prove useful to have a Korean listed vehicle as well as Hong Kong investment vector.

In addition to representing talent SIM has in the last year begun to act as a producer of TV content.

The last few years have seen large numbers of interactions between the Korean and Chinese film, TV and music industries, which have extended from content acquisition and remakes, increasingly to co-production and co-development.

Several Chinese firms have made corporate maneuvers in Korea, with Fosun International acquiring a portion of talent agency SM Entertainment, Wanda buying a piece of VFX company Dexter, and Huace buying into film distributor Next Entertainment World.