Scooter Braun has sold Ithaca Holdings to BTS agency Hybe (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) in a more than $1 billion deal.
The companies announced the billion-dollar transaction, covering the entirety of Ithaca Holdings, in a formal release this morning, though the sale amount came to light in a financial document filed by Hybe. Under the deal, the South Korean entertainment firm’s Hybe America will acquire a 100 percent stake in Ithaca Holdings – including SB Projects and the Big Machine Label Group, but not Taylor Swift’s catalog.
Accordingly, the buyout will see both Braun and The Carlyle Group (which in 2017 purchased a “significant minority stake” in the company) part with their interests in Ithaca Holdings. The longtime Justin Bieber manager Braun is set to join Hybe’s board of directors, and Scott Borchetta will remain on as CEO of Big Machine.
The involved parties also note in the release that “artists of both companies will participate in the capital increase of HYBE, to further strengthen the ties between the two companies.”
It’s unclear at this time which artists intend to back Hybe (and how much they’ll invest), but the “entertainment lifestyle platform company” today recorded a small stock-price gain, with shares (traded as 352820 on the Korea Exchange) having finished at about $215/₩243,000 apiece. Hybe/Big Hit debuted on the stock market last year and enjoyed substantial value growth out of the gate.
That the business in 2020 recorded a 36 percent YoY revenue boost, generating north of $717 million in spite of the pandemic – and, in turn, the indefinite postponement of BTS’s much-anticipated Map of the Soul Tour – appears to be one of the chief contributors to this still-strong stock-market performance.
More broadly, the acquisition is the latest in a series of expansion-minded moves for Hybe, which invested $3.6 million in “AI voice” company Supertone in February, following a $63.2 million investment in Seoul-headquartered K-pop agency YG Entertainment in late January. But the entity’s most recent plays have reflected a clear-cut desire to achieve a larger presence in the United States.
Building upon the point, Universal Music Group teamed up with Big Hit earlier this year “to launch a digital live streaming platform on a global scale.” The announcement of this streaming platform, VenewLive, was followed about one week later by news that UMG and Big Hit/Hybe would work together to create “a new global K-Pop boy group” in the U.S., besides establishing a stateside record label for this act as part of an “expanded strategic partnership.”