Anti-trust watchdog endorses BTS founder's acquisition of domestic entertainment agency

By Lim Chang-won Posted : October 19, 2020, 09:58 Updated : November 18, 2020, 17:36

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- The founder of BTS has secured approval from South Korea's anti-trust watchdog to push ahead with the acquisition of Pledis Entertainment, which controls two boy bands, NU'EST and Seventeen. The greenlight came as Big Hit Entertainment founded by Bang Si-hyuk became an unrivaled domestic entertainment powerhouse in terms of market capitalization through a stock market debut.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC), known for its strict attitude toward business combinations especially among big group units, took a lenient stance toward Big Hit, saying it would allow the combination of K-pop companies to create a foundation for enhancing their competitiveness in recognition of BTS' immense influence worldwide.

Helped by the stellar success of BTS, Bang has pushed for structural changes to introduce a multi-label system by acquiring an 85-percent stake in Pledis Entertainment in May and expanding into various genres including webtoons, animations, comic books, dramas and 3D graphic films.

"The pre-emptive building of its own platform will establish Big Hit as a key revenue-generating source," Ahn Jin-ah, a researcher at EBEST Investment & Securities, said, adding the structure of Big Hit makes it easy to generate various profits and secure margin through the internalization of distribution channels.

Big Hit has already acquired Source Music, a domestic label that manages girl group GFRIEND, and beNX, an entertainment platform company known for its fan community service Weverse that makes profits through subscription models and paid streaming. Weverse has grown rapidly with about five million active monthly users just a year after its release.

The 2019 acquisition of Superb, a company specializing in multi-platform music games, underscored Bang's aggressive business strategy. Superb carries out global services by using the intellectual property of Big Hit and related companies. Bang has said that games would create strong synergy with music.

In a ceremony to mark Big Hit's initial public offering on October 15, Bang promised to create a new ecosystem in the global entertainment industry where artists, consumers and industry workers can coexist, and to work hard to nurture his company into the world's top entertainment lifestyle platform company.

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