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Earlier this year, South Korean tech and entertainment firm Kakao bought a significant stake in K-Pop company SM Entertainment, emerging as the victor in a tussle with the latter company’s rival Hybe.

Now Kakao and SM are expanding their partnership to North America, announcing plans to merge Kakao Entertainment America and SM Entertainment USA by the end of 2023.

News site AllKPop reported that partnerships with American music companies as well as signing local artists will be high on the agenda of the new, merged business.

The announcement also trailed collaboration with global labels and distribution platforms, and further expansion plans to Europe.

The news adds further spice to SM’s competition with Hybe, which has been stepping up its own efforts in North America in recent times via a UMG partnership; a merger with Scooter Braun’s investment firm Ithaca Holdings; and the acquisition of hip-hop label Quality Control’s parent corporation.

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