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HYBE asks regulator to investigate purchase of SM shares

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HYBE's headquarter in Yongsan, central Seoul [YONHAP]
HYBE’s headquarter in Yongsan, central Seoul [YONHAP]

HYBE requested Korea’s financial regulator to investigate what it calls the “abnormal” purchase of SM Entertainment’s shares.

HYBE petitioned the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on Tuesday to look into the purchase of 683,398 shares of SM transacted through IBK Securities’ branch in Pangyo, Gyeonggi on Feb. 16.

The purchase amounted to a 2.9 percent stake in SM Entertainment.

The identity of the purchaser was not disclosed.

“The trading of SM shares through IBK Securities’ Pangyo branch was done at a critical point when SM share prices suddenly rose above 130,000 won,” HYBE said. “We are highly suspicious that the deal was done on purpose to manipulate stock price and hamper HYBE’s attempt at its tender offer.”

HYBE announced the tender offer to buy SM shares at 120,000 won per share on Feb. 10 to acquire an additional 25.2 percent stake. The share price was short of 120,000 won through Feb. 14.

However, on Feb. 16, the day of the transaction in question, SM’s share price spiked to close at 131,900 won.

“Some 403,132 shares were purchased as SM shares increased from 122,100 won to 125,800 won, and 222,923 shares were purchased at IBK Securities’ Pangyo branch when the shares jumped from 126,700 won to 129,800 won,” HYBE said.

The agency said the transaction violates Article 176 of the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act, which prohibits efforts to “attract anyone to trade listed securities or exchange-traded derivatives.”

“The transaction may have violated the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act and seems to have disturbed the market order,” HYBE said.

“The matter needs FSS’s close investigation, and follow-up measures need to be taken so that innocent investors are not hurt by the transaction.”

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]