Sohu takes stake in Korea’s Keyeast

Chinese internet portal Sohu is paying $14.5m for a 6% stake in Korean artist management company Keyeast, founded by actor Bae Yong-joon.

The deal makes Sohu the second largest shareholder in Keyeast behind Bae who still owns a 29% stake in the company. Sohu will also become Keyeast’s exclusive internet partner in China.

Keyeast manages artists such as Kim Hyun-joong (Boys Over Flowers) and Kim Soo-hyun (pictured), who stars in Korean TV drama My Love From The Star, which has recently been a huge hit in China on iQiyi.com and LeTV.com.

Keyeast said it chose Sohu as its Chinese partner due to its diversified business portfolio and publicity clout, which should help launch Korean stars in the mainland China market. In addition to Sohu’s internet portal, its assets include video website Sohu TV, search engine Sogou and gaming company Changyou.

Chinese internet companies are increasingly focusing on Korean content and talent, particularly as the government has recently tightened controls on streaming US-produced content. Korean talent is also popular with younger Chinese viewers.

In May, Baidu announced a strategic cooperation with Seoul-based SM Entertainment, aimed at licensing and marketing the Korean company’s music and videos in mainland China.