The Korea Herald


Kakao M carries on M&A push with $23m deal

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : Dec. 25, 2019 - 14:20

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Kakao M, a subsidiary of South Korean internet giant Kakao, is again adding momentum to mergers and acquisitions to consolidate its content production capacity and generate synergy among its media units.

In the latest move, Kakao M subsidiary Starship Entertainment inked a deal to buy a 100 percent stake in a local performing arts company, Shownote, for 26.8 billion won ($23 million) in cash. Starship Entertainment also announced a plan to raise 11 billion won in capital, part of which will come from its parent company.

The deal, announced Tuesday, adds theatrical production to Kakao M’s current business portfolio, which ranges from the production of movies and short-form web drama series to the management of singers and actors.

Seoul-based Shownote is dedicated to stage performances, including the Korean adaptations of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “The Bridges of Madison County.” Since organizing its first overseas performance project in 2017 with K-pop boy band Seventeen, the company has turned its eyes to overseas markets, logging 1.5 billion won in net profit in 2018, up nearly 70 percent on-year.

This marks Kakao M’s first acquisition to be announced since Kim Sung-soo, the former head of CJ ENM, took up the post of CEO in September.

Prior to Kim’s arrival, Kakao M, in which Kakao owns a 90 percent stake, had shown an aggressive appetite for expansion supported by M&As.

Earlier in September, Kakao M became the largest shareholder of local movie production firms Wolgwang and Sanai Pictures, buying a 41 percent stake in Wolgwang and an 81 percent stake in Sanai Pictures. A month earlier, Kakao M had acquired management agencies Awesome ENT and VAST Entertainment.

In late 2018, Kakao M announced plans to wholly own talent agencies including BH Entertainment, Management Soop, J, Wide-Company and model agency Ready Entertainment.

Kakao M was carved out of Kakao immediately after Kakao merged with what was formerly known as Loen Entertainment in November 2018, handing over Korea’s No. 1 music streaming platform, Melon, to its parent firm.

By Son Ji-hyoung (