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HYBE Sells $50 Million in SM Entertainment Stock

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K-pop giant HYBE sold a portion of its stake in rival South Korean music group SM Entertainment worth $50 million, or roughly 3% of the company, according to a filing made public on Tuesday (May 28).

Though it sold roughly 755,500 shares worth 68.4 billion Korean won, HYBE still owns some 2.2 million shares comprising a 9.4% stake SM Entertainment, the company behind such acts as aespa and NCT 127.

The musical home to supergroup BTS, HYBE’s actions related to SM have been closely scrutinized ever since it acquired a nearly 16% stake in SM in a failed takeover attempt last year.

In March this year, HYBE purchased an additional 868,948 shares of SM for approximately 104.3 billion won ($78 million). This was the final tranche of shares SM founder Lee Soo-man had pledged to sell to HYBE after it acquired from him the majority of his 15.8% stake in February 2023, according to a Feb. 28 regulatory filing.

HYBE’s purchase of Lee Soo-man’s shares briefly created a power struggle in South Korea’s K-pop industry. But ultimately, Kakao Corp.’s subsidiary Kakao Entertainment acquired nearly 40% of SM’s stock to control the company, a deal which received formal approval from the Korean Fair Trade Commission earlier this month.

Since losing out to Kakao, HYBE’s stock has fallen by more than 28% over the past 12 months. For the first quarter of this year, HYBE posted its lowest total revenue in two years — revenue of 360.9 billion won ($271.5 million), down 12.1% year over year and the lowest since posting 285 billion won ($214.4 million) in the first quarter of 2022. Operating profit fell precipitously to 14.4 billion won ($10.8 million), down 72.6% from the prior-year period. 

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