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Entertainment firm behind BTS seeks IPO underwriter: report

BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)
BTS (Big Hit Entertainment)
Big Hit Entertainment, the agency behind K-pop sensation BTS, is seeking an underwriter in the initial step to go public, according to news reports Friday.

Big Hit has sent a request for proposal to multiple securities brokerage firms to underwrite its initial public offering, an investment banking source was quoted as saying by local news outlet the Bell. The news report did not clarify which stock market in Korea that Big Hit would choose to be listed.

An underwriter is responsible for offering stocks -- privately held or newly issued -- to the public and protecting investors in the offered shares.

The move is seen as one of the first steps for a listing procedure, followed by an audit, due diligence, a listing eligibility review by a stock exchange operator like the Korea Exchange and a public offering.

A Big Hit official told The Korea Herald that no listing plan has yet been decided.

Founded in 2005 by K-pop producer Bang Si-hyuk, the entertainment firm is home to BTS, the first Korean act to score a platinum-selling record in the United States. It also holds contracts with singer Lee Hyun and boy band Tomorrow X Together.

In 2018, Big Hit recorded 50.2 billion won ($42.2 million) in net profit, up more than twofold on-year.

Bang is the biggest shareholder of Big Hit, with 43.06 percent stake as of end-2018. Among other major shareholders are gaming company Netmarble and venture capital firm STIC Investment.

Netmarble in April 2018 bought 25.71 percent stake from Big Hit for 201.4 billion won, valuing the firm at some 800 billion won.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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