SEOUL: Big Hit Entertainment, the management label of popular South Korean boy band BTS, debuted at double its initial public offering (IPO) price on Thursday, as investors scrambled for a piece of the country's largest listing in three years.
Big Hit shares opened at 270,000 won, valuing the company at about 9.6 trillion won ($8.38 billion), compared with an IPO price of 135,000 won per share last month.
The stock rose as much as 30% in early trade to 351,000 won, compared with a 0.3% fall on the benchmark KOSPI. That puts the company on track to join the all-time top 10 debuts on the South Korean stock market, based on first-day closing prices.
South Korean retail investors earlier this month laid out 58.4 trillion won in orders for Big Hit shares, falling just short of a record 58.55 trillion won for the retail portion of Kakao Games' listing in September.
Big Hit relies heavily on BTS, with the Billboard-topping group accounting for 87.7% of the label's revenue in the first half of 2020, according to a regulatory filing.
The seven-member boy band has a huge global fan base, which the label has promoted effectively through social platforms and online performances since in-person performances were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Analysts say the company has proved itself extremely online savvy, using Youtube and social media for market infiltration. It also has an unprecedented level of control over its revenue streams via its Weverse fandom platform that distributes BTS content and sells merchandise, which has the potential to draw in other artists.
"Big Hit has a different business model than the other big three K-Pop labels, JYP, SM and YG," said Nam Hyo-ji, analyst at KTB Investment & Securities. "Although not completely free from the effect of COVID-19, it's freer than other labels."
BTS earned a Guinness World Records title for most viewers for a livestreamed performance after its first paid online concert in June drew nearly 757,000 from 107 countries.
The listing ceremony at the Korea Exchange (KRX), attended by Big Hit founder and co-CEO Bang Si-hyuk, was broadcast live on the label's Youtube channel. The listing makes the BTS members multimillionaires, with each granted shares worth as much as 24 billion won ($20.94 million) according to early trade. ($1 = 1,146.1300 won) - Reuters
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