Big Hit Entertainment, the management company behind K-pop sensation BTS, is to make its first significant acquisition since going public in mid-October. It will inject $63 million (KRW70 billion) into YG Entertainment, the agency that is behind Blackpink, Treasure and recently-renewed brother and sister folk music act AKMU.
BHE and its media arm beNX will invest KRW30 billion and KRW40 billion respectively in YG Plus, giving them a combined 17.9% stake in the YG affiliate that focuses on music distribution and merchandising.
YG Plus is expected to help BHE with distribution and merchandize activities, while beNX will open its Weverse social media platform and Weverse Shop to YG Plus acts.
Hailing the move as a “strategic partnership,” BHE said: “We look forward to the synergy that YG Plus, which has a powerful network in various fields such as distribution and merchandising production, and Big Hit and beNX, which are strong in artist intellectual property and platforms.”
In separate announcement, Korean internet search and social media giant Naver Corporation said that it will invest $319 million (KRW355 billion) into beNX. At the same time, beNX will soon change its name to Weverse, its most notable creation to date.
The flurry of corporate moves follow a powerful 35% rally in BHE stock since 18 Jan. 2021, and to 54% above the price at which it sold its new shares in October. The share price surge lifts BHE’s market capitalization to $6.69 billion (KRW7.39 trillion).
The moves do little to diversify BHE from its heavy dependence on BTS. That will only happen when BHE establishes a wider stable of performers either through acquisition or successful new launches (or when BTS loses steam). Pre-IPO, BHE bought Source Music, home to GFriend, in 2019 and Pledis Entertainment, with acts including NU’EST and Seventeen, in mid 2020.
This year is forecast to be a particularly busy one for new band launches from all of the major agencies. Some acts will emanate from TV talent shows and others from the agencies’ own long-tern talent management programs. In 2021, BHE is expected to launch a boy band that targets the Japanese market and also its first girl group in some nine years.