Big Hit Entertainment, the agency behind hit boy band BTS, has taken another major step towards launching its IPO, as the Korea Exchange has deemed it eligible for public trading.
News of Big Hit Entertainment’s passing the preliminary Korea Exchange analysis – a mandatory precursor to every South Korean company’s securing IPO authorization – was recently reported by local news outlets. Now, the Seoul-based brand, which earned a whopping $507 million in 2019 (and profited over $85 million), will have six months to file an official IPO application with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), South Korea’s largest market-regulation entity.
Presumably, the 15-year-old business will continue to take rapid strides towards launching the IPO by submitting the FSC forms sooner rather than later. We reported in February that Big Hit’s founder, CEO, and largest shareholder (with 43.4 percent ownership), Bang Si-Hyuk, was spearheading the public-listing initiative, and his motivation for doing so is hardly a mystery. The 47-year-old’s strong lineup of K-pop acts – including BTS, most notably, as well as TXT and several soloists – continues to garner international acclaim and noteworthy profits.
To be sure, not even the novel coronavirus pandemic seems to have compromised BTS’s earning potential, as demonstrated by the seven-member group’s June 14th livestream concert, “Bang Bang Con: The Live.” More than 756,000 viewers, from some 100 countries, tuned in for the 12-song set, which has claimed the Guinness World Record for the largest livestream concert. At a minimum (assuming every fan purchased a discounted ARMY fan-club ticket), the digital performance earned $20 million. And prior to the coronavirus crisis, BTS was set to embark on an extensive world tour.
Big Hit Entertainment and Bang Si-Hyuk have made other moves (aside from the completion of formal IPO requirements) that appear designed to maximize the stock market listing’s success. In May, for instance, we covered Big Hit’s acquiring a majority stake in Pledis Entertainment, another one-stop entertainment company and record label. Also in May, “Hitman Bang” announced that he would serve as executive producer on I-Land, a reality show that follows up-and-coming K-pop acts as they attempt to take their careers to the next level. The second half of the program’s first season will begin this Friday, August 14th.
At the time of this writing, South Korea’s largest mobile video game developer (and 25.71 percent Big Hit stakeholder), Netmarble, was trading for about $128 (151,500 South Korean won) per share. The figure represents an approximately $50-per-share uptick since 2020’s start.