Kakao Clarifies Reports That It Has Acquired Lee Soo Man’s Shares In SM Entertainment

Kakao has clarified reports of its acquiring Lee Soo Man’s stake in SM Entertainment.

On March 11, Korea Economy TV reported that Kakao had agreed to purchase the entirety of SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo Man’s shares in the company. As Lee Soo Man currently holds an 18.73 percent stake in SM Entertainment, he is the company’s largest shareholder—and it is believed that whoever acquires his shares will be obtaining SM Entertainment’s management rights. Last year, it was reported that HYBE, CJ ENM, and Kakao were all competing to acquire Lee Soo Man’s stake in SM, though HYBE’s offer was said to have been rejected.

However, that same morning, Kakao officially clarified that nothing had yet been decided regarding a potential acquisition. A spokesperson for the company stated, “In order to strengthen the competitiveness of our global content business, we have been consistently reviewing a wide variety of possible measures, including partnerships and equity investment, but at the moment, nothing concrete has yet been decided.”

Back in October, SM Entertainment shut down rumors that CJ ENM’s acquisition of Lee Soo Man’s shares had been finalized, stating, “We are currently in discussions with a number of companies regarding multiple possible angles.” CJ ENM similarly responded, “While we are currently reviewing a diverse array of methods for the growth of our music business, nothing has been finalized.”

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