HYBE pulls out of bid to acquire 40% stake in SM Entertainment

HYBE, the South Korea-headquartered music giant, has officially ceased its attempt to acquire a 40% stake in rival K-pop company, SM Entertainment.

HYBE said in a statement today (March 12) that it was suspending its acquisition bid following a discussion with tech firm Kakao – its rival bidder in the SM takeover process.

HYBE last month acquired a 14.8% stake in SM Entertainment, for around USD $335 million, via the acquisition of shares from Lee Soo-man, SM Entertainment’s estranged founder.

HYBE subsequently made its intention public to acquire an additional 25.2% of SM Entertainment’s shares – which would have taken HYBE’s total shareholding up to 40% – via a tender offer to SM’s minority shareholders.

If successful, the move would have seen HYBE spend another ≈$565 million on SM shares.

Kakao / Kakao Entertainment then launched its own tender offer for SM shareholders at a higher per-share price than HYBE’s bid. Kakao is looking to acquire up to 35% of SM Entertainment for approximately USD $960 million through the process.

Kakao had already agreed a deal to buy 9.05% of SM in February, via the purchase of bonds and newly-issued shares. However, Lee Soo-man subsequently successfully blocked this buyout attempt in a Seoul court via an injunction.

HYBE’s attempt to buy a 40% stake in SM has consistently been met by strong resistance from SM’s management.

Today (March 12), HYBE officially pulled out of the battle for control of SM, issuing a statement that reads: “HYBE made this decision after observing that the market has been showing signs of overheating due to competition with both Kakao and Kakao Entertainment.”

HYBE added that it had “also taken into account the potential negative impact on HYBE’s shareholder value”.

Continued the HYBE statement: “HYBE acquired former Chief Producer Lee Soo-man’s shares and made the tender offer based on a fair acquisition price range, considering the long-term value of SM, and all costs that may arise during the post-merger integration process. However, HYBE determined that the price of acquiring SM exceeded the fair acquisition price range as the competition with both Kakao and Kakao Entertainment intensified.

“In light of recent developments, HYBE discussed the matters with Kakao and reached an agreement to suspend the process of acquiring SM’s management rights.”

HYBE statement

“HYBE contemplated the possibility that this acquisition, along with the tender offer, may harm shareholder value, and fuel overheating of the market… In light of recent developments, HYBE discussed the matters with Kakao and reached an agreement to suspend the process of acquiring SM’s management rights.

“Concurrently, the two companies agreed to cooperate on matters related to their platforms. HYBE has comprehensively considered internal and external factors and decided to suspend the process of acquiring SM and expressed its gratitude to everyone who has supported and encouraged the acquisition of SM so far.”

SM Entertainment’s biggest artists include the likes of Aespa, BoA, Super M, Super Junior, and EXO.

HYBE hasn’t only been busy spending M&A money in Korea this year, of course.

In February, HYBE America – led by CEO, Scooter Braun – announced that it had acquired Atlanta-born entertainment company and record label, Quality Control.

The price for that deal, as confirmed in a regulatory filing in Korea, was approximately USD $300 million, with $250 million in cash and another $50 million in equity.Music Business Worldwide

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