Top K-pop agency denies Alibaba investment report

SM Entertainment on Nov 25, 2014, denied a report that it was the target of a major investment deal worth at least US$90 million (S$117 million) from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
SM Entertainment on Nov 25, 2014, denied a report that it was the target of a major investment deal worth at least US$90 million (S$117 million) from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea's top K-pop entertainment firm on Tuesday denied a report that it was the target of a major investment deal worth at least $90 million from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

"We are discussing potential partnerships with many companies in order to diversify our businesses in China," SM Entertainment said in a regulatory filing.

"But the report on the investment deal with Alibaba is not true," the company added.

The Korea Economic Daily had cited unnamed industry sources saying Alibaba was conducting due diligence on the Seoul-based entertainment group with a view to a 100 billion won investment.

The report also said the two firms were considering setting up a joint venture in China.

Listed on Seoul's junior Kosdaq market, SM is valued at around 788.7 billion won. Former singer and founder Lee Soo-Man holds the largest stake of 21.3 per cent.

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.

In August, French luxury behemoth LVMH announced a $60 million investment in another K-pop giant, YG Entertainment, which includes "Gangnam Style" singer Psy on its roster.