The beginning of a new era of SM Entertainment and Kakao is here, the company’s board and founder Lee Soo-man suggested on Friday.SM Entertainment’s general shareholder meeting was held at its headquarters in Seongsu District, eastern Seoul, on Friday without Lee Soo-man.
Lee Soo-man retains 3.65 percent of the K-pop agency after selling a large chunk of his shares to HYBE.
Instead of attending, the founder sent out a letter to the media, saying that his era of SM has “now ended.”
“The era of SM, which I founded and named with my initials, has ended as of today,” he said.
In the letter, the founder stressed the global expansion of K-pop and hinted that he will continue to work towards achieving that goal — albeit somewhere else.
The founder mentioned that he is currently overseas.
“An era of SM 3.0 will be one of sustainable growth,” SM co-CEO Lee Sung-su said during his speech at the meeting.
Lee, who stated earlier that he is not running as CEO of the company again, ended his term on Friday.
The third phase of SM Entertainment, “SM 3.0,” involves liberating the business from the influence of Lee Soo-man.
“In 2023, the company will run under a multi-label system to diversify ways of lucrative profit to support debuts of new groups as well as our existing artists in solo and unit activities.”
Kakao Entertainment Vice President Jang Yoon-joong said plans would be revealed in time.
“We will support SM CEOs as best as we can, becoming the foundation for SM to be a launchpad for a major global entertainment company,” Jang said.
Jang is a candidate to be a non-executive director for the board. Jang is also the CEO of Kakao Entertainment’s U.S. venture.
Former SM CEO Kim Kyung-wook also participated in the meeting as a shareholder and asked if SM had plans to claw back 160 billion won Lee Soo-man through Like Planning, a private company that collected 6 percent of SM Entertainment revenue over 20 years.
“It’s difficult to give a straight answer at this meeting,” Lee Sung-su said. “The matter needs deeper discussion.
“What I want to stress to the shareholders is that today’s general shareholders’ meeting was made possible because we continued to push forward for change, although it took time.”
For dividend payouts, the company plans to pay 1,200 won per share, the highest dividend payout in the entertainment business and a dramatic increase from 2022’s 200 won per share.
The agenda items passed at the meeting included: the implementation of an electronic voting system for general shareholders meetings; banning board candidates who received a sentence for committing embezzlement or corruption in the previous three years; and selecting the chairman from non-executive directors to ensure the board’s independence.
BY LEE JAE-LIM [email@example.com]