In a new interview with Variety, businessman Scooter Braun opened up about HYBE‘s acquisition of Ithaca Holdings earlier this year, including how it came about and how he’s working alongside HYBE’s founder Bang Si Hyuk.
Back in early April, the media broke the news that HYBE would be acquiring 100% of U.S. investment company Ithaca Holdings, making it a subsidiary of the agency’s new HYBE America division. Many fans were shocked by the sudden deal, but it was relatively sudden to Scooter Braun too. The entrepreneur revealed he wasn’t looking to sell, but after a chance phone call from Bang Si Hyuk, the deal was closed within weeks.
Talking to Variety, Braun explained that a mid-pandemic walk he took with Disney executive Kevin Mayer sparked rumors that he was looking to sell Ithaca Holdings. Following that, he received an unexpected call informing him that Bang Si Hyuk was interested in bringing their companies together.
I was open to the conversation. I’ve always admired what Chairman Bang built.
— Scooter Braun
Braun says he and Bang began chatting on Zoom calls every week—but not about business. “We talked about our interests, meditation, music, family,” says Braun, “and we really began friends.” The entrepreneur went on to reveal that Bang Si Hyuk explained the difference between Western and Eastern transactions: in the West, Bang told him, deals are all about money, but in the East, they’re about relationships. Since Braun had focused on connecting with Bang during their conversations, the HYBE CEO wanted to do business with him.
We came to a deal very quickly and privately.
— Scooter Braun
Bang Si Hyuk recently said he’s gaining “a great deal of wisdom and life lessons” from Braun despite being older than him. On their calls, Braun says they also talked about how many companies have failed to unite the East and West, with the Ithaca Holdings businessman proposing that this is all down to “American arrogance.” In joining with HYBE, Braun says he told his team, “[This partnership] is not about ego; it’s about what’s right and we can build together long term.”
Describing the partnership as more of a merger than an acquisition despite HYBE acquiring Ithaca Holdings in its entirety, Braun says “there’s a tremendous amount of synergies” between the two companies. He also revealed that the HYBE and Ithaca Holdings branding teams are talking to each other and the artists are meeting each other too.
HYBE’s main label is Big Hit Music, which manages BTS and TXT, but HYBE Labels also encompasses Pledis Entertainment (SEVENTEEN, NU’EST) and more. Ithaca Holdings, meanwhile, manages Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, and J Balvin among others.
This was an opportunity to make a worldwide company overnight. It’s business as usual, but with more firepower.
— Scooter Braun
These are artists also among those with whom Braun has shared his HYBE stock allocations. “Bang told me he had done the same thing for his team when he went public,” says Scooter Braun, “So in this deal, there were no losers.”