SEOUL (Reuters) – Big Hit Entertainment, the music label of South Korean boy band BTS, has chosen JPMorgan <JPM.N>, NH Investment and Securities <005940.KS> and others to handle its initial public offering (IPO), according to media reports.
The IPO could be one of the largest in years in the country’s entertainment industry, with its total valuation expected to be as high as 6 trillion won ($5 billion), the reports said, citing industry sources.
Big Hit Entertainment has chosen three local brokerage firms – NH Investment & Securities, Korea Investment & Securities and Mirae Asset Daewoo <006800.KS> for the IPO, sources with direct knowledge off the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity as the plan is not public yet.
The brokerage firms declined to comment, while JPMorgan did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Founded in 2005, the South Korean talent agency behind global sensation BTS has helped the South Korean superstar boy band score megahits globally and sell out U.S. stadiums. BTS also performed at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles last month.
BTS broke into the U.S. market in 2017 and was the first Korean group to win a Billboard music award. The band is set to launch a new world tour in April.
With BTS at the height of its popularity, it would be the right time to go public for Big Hit Entertainment, analysts said. But some are skeptical about the lofty valuation.
“The band members who are in their 20s must enlist for compulsory military service in a few years,” said Yoo Sung-man, an analyst at Hyundai Motor Securities.
Big Hit Entertainment’s “valuable assets in their prime will be out of business for a while in the foreseeable future”.
Founder Bang Si-hyuk held the biggest stake of about 43.06% in Big Hit Entertainment as of the end of 2018, followed by gaming company Netmarble Corp’s <251270.KS> 25.22%, according to a regulatory filing by the music label.
Its operating profit nearly doubled to 64.1 billion won in 2018 from a year ago, according to the filing.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Himani Sarkar)