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Entertainment

Korean TV stars tipped for Kosdaq IPO windfalls

Blitzway's December IPO is likely to generate substantial gains for two Korean actors

By Nov 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

One-third scale statue of The Suicide Squad's Harley Quinn (Courtesy of Blitzway)
One-third scale statue of The Suicide Squad's Harley Quinn (Courtesy of Blitzway)

A spate of South Korean entertainment companies' public listings will likely create windfalls of up to tens of millions of dollars for Korean TV stars, including Korea Wave icon Bae Yong-joon.

Blitzway Co., South Korea's top action figure maker, is scheduled to make a trading debut on Kosdaq in mid-December via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). 

Bae, a first-generation star of Korean Wave or Hallyu, will see his shareholdings in Blitzway decrease to 10.51% after the SPAC merger, versus the current 12.25%. Another Korean actor Ju Ji-hoon, starring in Mount Jiri, an ongoing South Korean TV series, will end up with a 1.31% stake in Blitzway, compared to the current 1.53% stake.

If the figure manufacturer is valued at around 100 billion won ($85 million) in an IPO, Bae's stake will swell to the 10 billion won range, with that of Ju projected at over 1 billion won. The estimated values represent several tens of times their initial investments.

Bae, who rose to stardom in the early 2000s after starring in the TV drama Winter Sonata, voluntarily agreed not to sell his Blitzway shares for six months after its IPO. By contrast, Ju has not signed a lockup agreement.

Both actors invested in Blitzway back in 2018 because of their relationships with the company's Chief Executive Bae Sung-woong, who ran KIST -- an entertainment company founded by Bae -- as a professional manager for 12 years. After KIST was sold to SM Entertainment Co., South Korea's entertainment powerhouse, its manager Bae moved to Blitzway in 2018.

Bae Yong-joon (left), Yoo Hee-yeol (center) and Ju Ji-hoon (right)
Bae Yong-joon (left), Yoo Hee-yeol (center) and Ju Ji-hoon (right)
Blitzway produces figures based upon characters from movies, comic books and television programs, including the White Ghosts of the Hunters game series and The Suicide Squad's Harley Quinn.

Under the new CEO, the company had expanded almost four times in sales over a period of three years. Sales increased to 12.7 billion won in 2020, versus the previous year's 3.2 billion won. It also turned to the black last year with a net profit of 3.3 billion won.

This year, its net profit is forecast to rise by double digits to 5 billion won on sales of 20 billion won.

RBW, KAKAO ENTERTAINMENT

South Korean star composer Kim Do-hoon is also tipped to earn about 30 billion won in capital gains from an IPO of RBW Inc., a company he co-founded in 2010. The composer of BTS' hit song Blood, Sweat & Tears has a 19.88% stake in the label behind K-pop star Mamamoo.

RBW's other artists include Oneus, Onewe and Vromance. After its acquisition of WM Entertainment, idol groups B1A4 and Oh My Girl joined the label. 

Last week, RBW priced its IPO at the top of the price range of 21,400 won, putting founder and CEO Kim's shareholdings at 30.3 billion won in value. 

Mamamoo
Mamamoo

South Korean singer-songwriter Yoo Hee-yeol is likely to join the group of K-pop stars to benefit from domestic IPOs. His 0.07% stake in Kakao Entertainment Corp. is expected to surpass 14 billion won in value, about double his investment, when it goes public next year.

After selling his entertainment agency Antenna to Kakao Entertainment, Yoo spent about 7 billion won to buy newly issued shares in Kakao Entertainment last month. The rights offering valued Kakao Entertainment at 11 trillion won, which is expected to rise to the 20 trillion won range in an IPO.

Last week, DearU Co., a K-pop fandom platform backed by SM Entertainment and JYP Entertainment Inc., made a stellar trading debut on the Kosdaq. Its shares opened at 52,000, double the initial public offering price of 26,000 won, briefly putting the company’s market value ahead of established label YG Entertainment Inc.

Write to Ye-jin Jun at ace@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article

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