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BTS agency HYBE seeks US deal after withdrawing bid for SM Entertainment

SEOUL: South Korea’s biggest music label HYBE, which manages hit boy band BTS, will announce “substantial acquisitions and investments” this year, the chairman of South Korea’s biggest music label said on Wednesday, as the K-pop giant looks to boost its presence in the United States .

After HYBE withdrew plans to buy rival label SM Entertainment on Sunday following a weeks-long battle with social media giant Kakao, the company began working to expand its portfolio of music labels and fan community platforms.

“We will be announcing a number of acquisitions and investments throughout the year as part of our efforts to expand our presence in the US,” HYBE Chairman Bang Si-hyuk told a news conference, adding that the company is considering acquiring “top-tier ” label in the Latin music market.

HYBE owns various subsidiaries and management companies including Ithaca Holdings and owns a string of artists including BTS, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. It also operates Weverse, a fan community platform where artists upload exclusive content to engage with fans.

Despite the increase in spending per K-pop fan, Bang said growth in the popularity of one of South Korea’s most popular cultural exports is slowing, especially in some Southeast Asian countries.

He said the slowdown was mainly but not entirely due to the absence of BTS, who are currently taking a break as a group.

“Without BTS, the market size would shrink dramatically,” Bang added.

Bang declined to comment on the details of the new partnership agreement with Kakao Entertainment for the fan platform business, but added that although he lost out in the bid to acquire SM Entertainment, he was “personally satisfied” with the arrangement.

“A platform where we can mobilize and grow our fan base, and a platform where we can serve them up, along with video games, are integral to our plans for the future,” he said.

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