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(LEAD) Kakao to acquire S. Korea's top music streaming provider

All Headlines 10:12 January 11, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details in paras 2, 6-10)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top mobile messenger operator Kakao Corp. said Monday it will take over a controlling stake in LOEN Entertainment Inc., expanding its business scope to cover music streaming.

Under the plan, Kakao will purchase a 76.4 percent stake in the country's leading provider of music streaming and download service for 1.87 trillion won (US$1.54 billion).

KakaoTalk, South Korea's most favored mobile messenger, is used by around 37 million users in the country with a population of 50 million.

LOEN operates the music streaming service MelOn that has 28 million local users.

"Music is one of the most loved content genres in the mobile era. It is also incredibly powerful in that one song can set trends for an entire generation and highly influence global pop culture," said Jimmy Rim, CEO of Kakao.

The mobile messenger operator said it seeks to raise 750 billion won through issuing new stocks to Star Invest Holdings Limited, LOEN's former major shareholder. It will also utilize its cash and plans to seek outside investments if necessary.

Kakao started from a merger between South Korea's online portal operator Daum Communications Corp. and then-Kakao Corp. in 2014. Since then, Kakao has been rolling out various services on the back of its strong local users, including mobile wallets and taxi services.

Kakao said its mobile platform and Loen's contents can generate new business opportunities, adding that it aims to pave ways for local musicians to tap overseas markets.

Shares of LOEN soared 13.87 percent to 89,500 won on the secondary bourse as of 9:57 a.m., while Kakao advanced 1.56 percent to 117,000 won. The report was announced after the stock market opened Monday.

LOEN Entertainment also holds various top-name stars under its wing, including singer-songwriter IU.

colin@yna.co.kr
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