There has been much commotion in the Korean entertainment industry, with HYBE acquiring 14.8% of SM Entertainment.
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On February 10, HYBE Labels confirmed that it has purchased 14.8% of shares in SM Entertainment from founder Lee Soo Man, formally becoming the agency's largest shareholder. Additionally, it was confirmed that HYBE is looking to acquire an additional 25% stake in SM Entertainment for 900 million USD.
This came about after a management dispute between the current management of SM Entertainment under co-CEOs and the founder Lee Soo Man. While Lee Sung Soo and Tak Young Jun have sided with Kakao and Align Partners, Lee Soo Man partnered up with HYBE, bringing more attention to the internal feud.
With the announcement that HYBE has become the biggest shareholder, there have been various discussions about the change that will come about in SM Entertainment. One discussion is the high probability that SM will have fewer ties with China and fewer Chinese members in their future artist lineup.
In a popular online community, fans are worried that HYBE might disband the less popular groups of SM Entertainment.
Fans expressed their worries and commented, "I feel like when HYBE acquires 40% as they planned, they're going to start cutting off all the none useful people," "Which groups are the less popular groups in SM though?" "There are definitely groups in SM that are not profitable," "Are there groups that are not profitable at SM though?" "Maybe the groups that are older," "Why are people keep talking about this?" "I don't think HYBE will have the power to just disband people like that," and "I don't think it would be disbanding but the worry is when the contract expires."