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S.Korea's Kakao Entertainment to acquire serial fiction app Radish for $440 mln

05/10/2021 20:00
S.Korea's Kakao Entertainment to acquire serial fiction app Radish for $440 mln

By Joyce Lee

- Kakao Entertainment Corp, the online comic, talent agency and movie-making unit of South Korean tech giant Kakao Corp 035720.KS, is acquiring New York and Seoul-based serialized fiction app Radish for $440 million, Radish said in a statement.

The purchase will make Kakao the latest South Korean entertainment firm to expand in North America through acquisitions as Korean entertainment's global reach widens.

Kakao Entertainment has seen success with its online-based web cartoons or “webtoons” at home and in Japan, with Kakao-backed Piccoma becoming one of Japan's highest-grossing mobile apps outside games. nL4N2HD3IH

Kakao also owns serialized fiction intellectual properties (IPs), movie production companies, actors' talent agencies, K-pop artists' labels, and performance and content companies, making it "unique" in its ability to convert a single creative IP into many channels and forms, Radish CEO and founder Seungyoon Lee told Reuters.

"Kakao Entertainment has all the value chain under their wing, it can literally take a web fiction into a webtoon then turn it into a TV drama and movie," Lee said.

Radish adds to this smartphone-optimised "bite-sized" fiction, with revenue that jumped from about $2 million in 2019 to about $20 million in 2020, Lee said.

About 90% of Radish's revenue comes from original content written by teams of writers, including some who have won Emmy Awards for soap operas, the statement said.

The acquisition is expected to close in June. Radish previously received Series A funding from investors including SoftBank Group Corp's 9984.T venture arm and Kakao.

Earlier this year, K-pop sensation BTS' agency HYBE 352820.KS announced the acquisition of Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings in a $1.05 billion deal, bringing artists like BTS, Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande under one roof.

South Korea's tech giant Naver 035420.KS purchased Canada-based storytelling platform Wattpad for $600 million. nL4N2LV13CnS6N2HP015


(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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