[THE INVESTOR] The Walt Disney Co. has become the first US-based media company to invest in a Korean entertainment firm, according to local news reports on Dec. 22.
A&E Networks, a Walt Disney subsidiary, is reportedly acquiring a 5 percent stake in IHQ, an entertainment company that represents hallyu celebrities such as Kim Woo-bin and Kim Yoo-jung. It will sign a contract on Dec. 22 to acquire shares from its majority shareholder D’LIVE, the third largest cable TV company in the nation, which has a 50.37 percent stake.
Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Robert Iger
The acquisition price has been set at 18 billion won (US$15 million), according to sources.
The two parties are planning to conclude a strategic alliance in early 2017 and will jointly promote cultural contents by collaborating on production and distribution of Korean films and dramas.
The partnership comes as IHQ seeks to expand its Korean contents overseas and Walt Disney is keen in entering the Korean entertainment industry. Since last year, A&E Networks has been eyeing a platform for stable distribution of its programs in Korea.
Through this partnership, A&E will broadcast two channels -- History and Lifetime -- on D’live’s cable network. In addition, IHQ is planning to export Korean celebrity-based contents through Disney’s distribution channel.
Industry sources are optimistic that this deal will open up more possibilities for large-scale US media groups to become more active in the Korean entertainment industry, as well as future prospects of entering the cable market.
By Alex Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)