BTS agency acquires Ithaca Holdings, joins K-pop, U.S. artists



SEOUL, April 6 (UPI) — The South Korean music label representing BTS is acquiring Ithaca Holdings for $1.05 billion.

The U.S. affiliate of HYBE, formerly Big Hit Entertainment, will buy all shares of Ithaca Holdings and its properties, including SB Projects and Big Machine Label Group.

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As a result, the contract will bring together BTS, arguably the world’s most popular boy band, with U.S. pop stars like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and J Balvin. American media entrepreneur Scooter Braun, who heads Ithaca Holdings, will also join the board of HYBE.

“The inevitable joining of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings marks the start of a new adventure no one could have possibly imagined,” HYBE’s founding CEO, Bang Si-hyuk, said Friday in a statement. “The two companies will work closely together, leveraging our proven track records of success, know-how and expertise to create synergy, transcend borders and break down cultural barriers.”

In 2019, Braun was at the center of controversy when he acquired the music label that put out several of American singer Taylor Swift‘s albums. Swift accused Braun of being a “manipulative bully” at the time of the purchase, and in late 2020, Braun sold off the master rights to Swift’s first six albums.

Now that South Korea’s HYBE has acquired Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, analysts say the music group can further tap into the U.S. market.

“HYBE strives to gobble up not only Ithaca Holdings, but also its staff and artists so as to create a synergy effect,” KB Investment & Securities analyst Lee Sun-hwa told UPI News Korea. “The measure is expected to help K-pop stars advance into the global market. As HYBE secured enough cash through the listing, it may purchase other labels in the future.”

Since its initial public offering in October, HYBE has invested in South Korea’s show business sector. Earlier this year, its subsidiary, beNX, took over a video streaming service called V Live.

HYBE and beNX also funneled $62 million into YG Plus, a unit of their cross-town rival, YG Entertainment.

“If BTS can perform along with Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, the impact would be great. The HYBE-Ithaca partnership has a shot at the jackpot,” HMC Investment & Securities analyst Kim Hyun-yong said. “But in case the world’s music market does not get back on track early after the virus pandemic, HYBE may not be able to get big advantages from the deal.”



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