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SM Entertainment Battle: Court Backs Lee Soo-Man, Blocks Kakao Share Purchase and Dilution of HYBE

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Patrick Frater Asia Bureau Chief A court in Seoul on Friday blocked a proposed move to issue new shares in K-pop talent agency SM Entertainment to Korean tech giant Kakao Corp.

and its Kakao Entertainment subsidiary. An injunction was sought by Lee Soo-man, one of the pioneers of the Korean contemporary music industry, but who is recently at the center of a storm of controversy.

Lee, who has fallen out with his company’s current management team, announced at the beginning of February his plans to sell a 14.8% stake in SM to HYBE Corp., the firm behind hit group BTS and a rival to SM.

It then emerged that SM’s management was proposing to issue new shares to the Kakao pair, giving them a 9.05% holding, and sign an exclusive distribution contract.

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