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BTS’ fans give $4 billion IPO a global army to go with it

But what these investors are really paying for is not necessarily Big Hit or even BTS. It’s a huge and highly connected ecosystem of fans like Hackworth with a deep, even life-changing, attachment to the group and its message of inclusivity and self-love.

October 16, 2020 / 02:50 PM IST

Hackworth, who teaches English in South Korea, is on a Zoom call with five other fans of the Korean pop group BTS, planning a virtual meetup for followers. An online game for the event still needs work. Someone has to reach out to local radio stations about media coverage. And who can contact potential sponsors?

Their fan group will not be paid a dime for promoting the band. But without their efforts, and those of a vast network of other hyper-dedicated fans, the Korean company that manages BTS, Big Hit Entertainment, would not now be a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

On Thursday, shares in the company will begin trading in South Korea, capping off the country’s most hotly anticipated initial public offering since 2017. Institutional and retail investors across the world scrambled to get a piece of Big Hit before the listing, with hundreds of preorders for every share. Big Hit, which reported a profit of $86 million last year, is valued at around $4 billion, after raising more than $800 million by offering investors about 20% of the company.