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Alibaba to invest in top K-pop agency SM Entertainment: report
[SEOUL] Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is planning a major investment worth at least 100 billion won (US$90 million) in South Korea's top K-pop entertainment firm, a report said Tuesday.
Alibaba is conducting a due diligence on Seoul-based SM Entertainment in preparation for the investment, the Korea Economic Daily said, citing unnamed industry sources familiar with the negotiations.
A South Korean accounting firm hired by Alibaba has been confirmed to be carrying out the due diligence, the newspaper said.
An SM Entertainment spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, but Seoul's stock market regulators ordered the company to clarify its position by the end of the day.
Listed on Seoul's junior Kosdaq market, SM is valued at around 788.7 billion won.
Former singer and founder Lee Soo-Man has a leading stake of 21.3 per cent, and Alibaba would become the second-largest shareholder if the deal goes through.
The two firms are also considering setting up a joint venture in China, the daily said.
The SM K-pop stable includes some of the industry's biggest acts including boybands EXO and Super Junior, and the girlband Girls' Generation.
The company, founded in 1995, is considered a pioneer of the K-pop wave that has swept Asia over the past decade with its blend of youthful good looks and slick production.
And it is not the first South Korean entertainment firm to attract overseas interest.
In August, French luxury behemoth LVMH announced a US$60 million investment in another K-pop giant, YG Entertainment, which includes "Gangnam Style" singer Psy on its roster.