Having been offered at KRW135,000 apiece, shares began trading at KRW270,000. That gave the company a valuation of $8.38 billion (KRW9.6 trillion) and provided agency co-founder Bang Si-hyuk, with a 36% stake, a net worth of over $3 billion.
By the end of trading the shares had slipped 4% from the opening number to finish at KRW258,000 apiece. That still represents a 91% gain on the offer price. Some 6.5 million shares were traded on the first day, according to the Korean stock market operator KRX.
Each member of BTS, from which the agency earns some 90% of its revenues, had earlier received more than 68,000 shares. In a matter of moments on Thursday, the value of those allocations had increased from $8 million (KRW9.18 billion) to $16 million (KRW18.3 billion).
The IPO debut has captured both the imagination of fans and financial institutions. It was livestreamed on YouTube and other platforms.
In recent days, the shares were priced at the top of their suggested range. When the company was being touted to institutions, bids were made for more than 100 times the amount of shares on offer. The retail offering that followed saw individual investors apply for 607 time more shares than the company was selling, though some analysts noted that that was less than the 1,000 time over subscription that the IPO of Kakao Games had enjoyed.
Many of the applicants are understood to have been fans applying for just one share, who suggested that they were buying a piece of memorabilia, rather than making a considered financial investment.
BTS had been rattled earlier in the week when Chinese authorities and mainland Chinese nationalists criticized band member RM for the content of an awards acceptance speech. They suggested his reference to the Korean War had been an insult to China, which fought on the side of North Korea.
But good news came on Tuesday, when the South Korean government hinted at a rethink of its compulsory military service system. Under current rules, every male under 28 must be available for conscription and may serve for up to two years. Exemptions and deferrals have been given to Korea’s top athletes and classical musicians for their part in elevating the country’s reputation overseas. To date, no K-pop celebrities have been given exemption, but defense minister Suh Wook said on Tuesday that a deferral could be possible for the seven BTS members.