HYBE, the company known as Big Hit Entertainment which is home to BTS, the South Korean pop group, has merged with Ithaca Holdings, the company led by SB Projects founder Scooter Braun. In the deal, HYBE will acquire through its HYBE America, its wholly owned subsidiary, a 100% stake in Ithaca Holdings and its properties, which includes SB Projects, whose management clients include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, among others, as well as Big Machine Label Group.
Braun will join the board of HYBE and Scott Borchetta will remain CEO of Big Machine Label Group. Artists of both companies will participate in the capital increase of HYBE, to further strengthen the ties between the two companies, according to a release announcing the deal.
Said HYBE chairman and CEO Bang Si-Hyuk: “The inevitable joining of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings marks the start of a new adventure no one could have possibly imagined. The two companies will work closely tog ether leveraging our proven track records of success, know – how, and expertise to create synergy, transcend borders and break down cultural barriers. Please look forward to the endless possibilities of HYBE and Ithaca Holdings, and the new paradigm the partnership will establish in the music industry.”
Added Braun: “This will be the first time HYBE’s groundbreaking systems and curation will be integrated in the U.S. market at the onset of an artist’s career. Plus, it will help us to continue to further the careers of the artists we already work with. Global opportunities for artists become exponential with this partnership. This is an opportuni ty for us to make history and further innovate the music industry and revolutionize the game itself. Its implications for the business will be monumentous for a long time to come. I am incredibly grateful for Chairman Bang’s friendship and his willingness to support the creative journey of an artist.”
The deal encompasses a range of services including management, label services and publishing for a combined roster that includes BTS, TXT, SEVENTEEN, among other HYBE acts, with Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, J Balvin, Demi Lovato, Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, Lady A and more artists on the SB Projects and Big Machine rosters.
As part of the transaction, The Carlyle Group will sell off its minority stake in Ithaca Holdings. It had initially invested in the company in 2017 via its Carlyle Partners VI fund.
“For 15 years, I have worked alongside Scooter helping him build a best-in-class entertainment company and phenomenal team of which we are both immensely proud,” said Allison Kaye, partner at Ithaca Holdings and president of SB Projects. “We have launched amazing careers and brands and released incredible content into the world. We are ecstatic to have this new opportunity to partner with Chairman Bang and Big Hit to further the global reach of both companies and the artists with whom we have the privilege of working as we continue to grow our company and their careers across entertainment, technology, commerce and content. Thank you to Scooter, Chairman Bang and everyone involved – we are beyond grateful for the opportunity.”
Added Jen McDaniels, general manager, SB Projects: “After many years working independently, I decided to join the SB projects family, not only because of my long standing relationships with Scooter and Allison or their success but for the commitment and dedication they’ve shown to their artists. I feel so fortunate that after three years with this company, we have found a partner across the world who shares those same values. This is such a unique and fortuitous joining of forces, I really cannot express how excited I am for what the future holds.”
Big Hit’s name change to HYBE was to be addressed at a general shareholders meeting on March 30. The impetus for the change reportedly stems from the Korea Exchange-listed company’s desire to position itself as a company that has expanded beyond mere artist management to realize its ambitions of becoming a more comprehensive lifestyle platform. Korean reports state that Big Hit plans to branch out from music production, distribution, artist management, live performance management, internet tech and e-commerce to become more involved in areas such as travel, real estate, and other types of communications.
Founded in 2005, Big Hit started as an underdog firm in Korea’s pop music world, where three major talent management firms dominated K-pop. Its status changed, however, as its boy band BTS rocketed to stardom. Big Hit continues to rely on the boy band for the majority of its revenue.
The company went public in October with a $820 million offering that was South Korea’s largest in three years. Despite the initial hype, its stock has roller-coastered dramatically since. After a surge at the trading debut, the shares sank through the last months of 2020, before staging a spectacular rally from late January 2021, reaching a new high point in mid-February. At KRW205,000 as of Thursday morning local time, the price is 52% above the IPO price of KRW135,000, and gives the company a market capitalization of KRW7.29 ($6.4 billion).