Kakao's $1.6b K-Pop bet

Korea’s largest messaging app operator bids for controlling stake in Leon Entertainment as it looks to explore new growth engines following a slowdown in user growth.

Korean instant messaging service provider Kakao Corp said on Monday that it plans to buy a controlling stake in Loen Entertainment for W1.88 trillion $1.6 billion to help diversify its portfolio and reduce its reliance on advertising income.

Kakao, which operates Korea’s largest instant messenger KakaoTalk, said it plans to acquire 76.4% of the K-Pop music distributor from Star Invest Holdings and SK Planet through a combined cash-and-shares bid.

It is potentially Korea’s sixth-largest acquisition by a technology company since 2010, according to data provider Dealogic.

Kakao will buy 19.3 million Loen Entertainment shares at approximately W97,000 apiece, or a 23.4% premium...

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