Asia News: HYBE Drops Bid For SM Entertainment, Seoul To Bid For Olympics, Hibiya To Close

3 ASIA Olympics
OLYMPIC REDUX? South Korea intends to bid to host the 2036 Olympic Summer Games for what would be the second time. The Olympics first visited Seoul in 1988, seen here during the Opening Ceremony at Seoul Olympic Stadium. (Photo by Gray Mortimore/Getty Images)


HYBE Drops Bid For SM Entertainment

K-pop entertainment agency HYBE announced March 12 that it has given up on its takeover bid for rival SM Entertainment after several weeks of corporate intrigue.

In a statement to CNN, HYBE said it came to its decision “after observing that the market has been showing signs of overheating due to competition with both Kakao and Kakao Entertainment.”

Kakao is South Korea’s biggest internet services company and Kakao Entertainment its entertainment-oriented subsidiary. Apparently, Kakao’s rival bid for SM, which SM reportedly encouraged, caused HYBE to consider “the potential negative impact on HYBE’s shareholder value.”

The previous week, both Kakao and Kakao Entertainment intensified their intent to take over SM, Korea’s most powerful K-pop agency, by trying to buy up to 35% of its shares with an offer that was much higher than HYBE’s.

The music industry was already worried that HYBE, which represents K-pop’s biggest act, BTS, would come to dominate K-pop in a virtual monopoly if it succeeded, even though HYBE’s chairman, Bang Si-hyuk, denied that the company had any such intention.

HYBE’s intent was to control 25% of SM, and presently it controls only 15.8% of the company’s shares, which it purchased directly from the founder, Lee Soo-man, who left SM last fall under a cloud. Lee is often called the “godfather of K-pop” because of the wide range of acts he cultivated.

In a statement of its own, SM said that it “welcomes” HYBE’s decision to halt its takeover scheme. Kakao, however, will continue with its tender offer to SM shareholders.
In addition, Music Business Worldwide reports that SM will follow HYBE’s lead in expanding its business more forcefully overseas.

During an investor presentation, SM revealed that it plans to acquire music interests in the U.S. and is now “reviewing companies appropriate for SM’s genre spectrum,” especially in the areas of R&B and hip-hop. The figure it floated for the investment was $150 million, though whether they would spend it on one acquisition or more than one isn’t clear. Speculation is already rampant as to possible targets.

Seoul To Bid For ’36 Summer Olympics

Seoul has said it will bid for the right to host the 2036 Summer Olympic Games. However, it has abandoned the idea of co-hosting the Games with the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

In 2021, Seoul sent a proposal to host the 2032 Olympics with Pyongyang to the International Olympic Committee. Eventually, Brisbane was named the host of the 2032 Games, but only after the IOC hailed the joint bid as a “historic initiative.”

The mayor of Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, said in an interview that he concluded that the strategy for a joint hosting of the Games was “doomed to failure because of unpredictable inter-Korean relations.”

Though the 2018 Winter Games were held in Pyeongchang in South Korea, teams from both the South and North marched together during the opening ceremony under a unified flag and fielded a combined women’s hockey team.

However, in light of North Korea’s escalating missile launches, relations have soured even more in recent years, and experts in the South believe North Korea will resume nuclear tests this year.

The UK’s Independent newspaper reports that the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee has not yet received a formal statement of intent from Seoul for the 2036 bid.
Apparently, the South Korean port city of Busan also wants to host the 2036 Olympics.


Hibiya Set To Close In 2024

One of Tokyo’s most iconic concert venues, Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo, will close sometime in 2024, Japan’s main music chart publication, Oricon, reports.

Local authorities have announced plans to rebuild it. The venue, which opened in 1923, is an open-air amphitheater located in Hibiya Park, adjacent to the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.

Hibiya amphitheater was for years the largest outdoor concert venue in the country and hosted events from classical performances to standard Japanese pop and rock to blues festivals and even Phish.

The renovation is to be part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Hibiya Park Revitalization. Plan, which was implemented last July.