Earlier Tuesday, the Korean Economic Daily reported that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) was in talks with the K-pop agency SM Entertainment to invest as much as $90 million in the Korean company. Citing unnamed sources, the daily added that Alibaba had hired an accounting firm to conduct due diligence before putting in up to 100 billion won ($90 million) in the Seoul-based company.
SM in talks with several parties
Just hours later, the Korean record label denied those reports. The daily had also claimed that Alibaba and SM Entertainment were planning to set up a joint venture in China. SM currently has a market value of 788.7 billion won ($710 million). It manages popular K-pop groups such as Super Junior, Girls’ Generation and EXO, who perform in several Asian markets including China and Japan.
SM Entertainment said that it was in talks with several parties about a potential partnership or other types of cooperation in China. SM founder and former singer Lee Soo-Man is the largest shareholder in the company with 21.3% stake. If the Korean Economic Daily’s reports were true, Alibaba would have become its second largest shareholder.
Alibaba strengthening its entertainment arm
In August, French luxury giant LVMH invested $60 million in another K-pop agency YG Entertainment, whose roster includes “Gangnam Style” singer Psy. Alibaba has been investing aggressively in the entertainment sector worldwide, with aspirations to become the world’s largest entertainment company. It owns 60% stake in ChinaVision, which has been renamed Alibaba Pictures.
For content distribution, the Jack Ma-led company has signed a deal with digital media broadcasting and distribution company Wasu Group. Earlier this year, Alibaba purchased a 16.5% stake in the online video platform Youku in an attempt to build an entertainment ecosystem. Last month, the online retailer announced that it was investing $50 million in Peel, which makes entertainment apps. Alibaba has also been in talks to buy a 37.4% stake in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (USA) (NYSE:LGF).