HYBE founder Bang Si-hyuk has opened up about its battle against Kakao to acquire shares of K-pop agency SM Entertainment.
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Today (March 15), Bang delivered a keynote speech at the Gwanhun Forum, hosted by the Gwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists in Korea. Held at the Korean Press Center in Seoul, South Korea, the forum provided attendees the opportunity to gain insight into Bang and HYBE’s vision of the K-pop industry.
During a Q&A session at the event, Bang opened up about HYBE’s recent attempt to acquire SM Entertainment, and its battle against South Korean internet giant Kakao over the K-pop agency. Bang claimed that HYBE had been toying with the acquisition idea since at least 2019, noting that there were two other attempts before the most recent events.
“Since 2019, HYBE has been putting its finger on acquiring SM Entertainment. HYBE made offers twice but was rejected,” he said, per Daum, as translated by Koreaboo. “There was both support and opposition internally regarding the acquisition.”
Bang then noted that following the two failed acquisitions, as well as internal disagreements on the direction of the company, he had decided that “we need to look towards the future… and so, we [moved away] from an acquisition [back then]”.
The HYBE founder then went on to claim that their most recent bid to acquire SM Entertainment came after Bang was contacted personally by SM founder Lee Soo-man. “He asked me about my thoughts on acquiring stocks and many of the factors that were against the acquisition of SM Entertainment had gone away then,” Bang said. “I thought that [the acquisition] was alright at that moment, so I agreed to it.”
Bang then spoke about how the “competitive and overheated battle” against Kakao for the K-pop agency was not one that he had expected, calling it “a war that messed up the order of the market and damaged the shareholders’ value”.
Earlier this week, HYBE announced that it would drop its bid to acquire SM Entertainment, following a discussion with Kakao where the two companies stuck a deal to “cooperate on matters related to their platforms”.