SK moves into China music biz


SEOUL -- South Korea's top mobile phone service provider, SK Telecom, has made a major investment in a leading Chinese music label, part of SK's plans to expand its content operations around Asia.

SKT is paying an undisclosed sum for a 42.2% stake in Beijing Taihe Rye Music Co. Ltd. (TR Music), one of China's largest recording companies, becoming an equal majority shareholder and participating in the management of the company.

"The China market features an unlimited growth potential in both the music and convergence business," said Seok Hwan Lee, president of SK Telecom China Holding Co. "Through TR Music, we will enhance our core competitiveness in record production and expand business models in the digital music industry to become a leading music label in Asia."

With South Korea's mobile telephone market saturated, telecoms have been moving aggressively into content over the past couple of years.

SK Telecom already owns JYP Entertainment, one of Korea's largest music labels; Seoul Records, a leading distributor; and iHQ, a major movie producer and talent management company.

At a Beijing press conference, the CEOs of iHQ and JYP Entertainment signed an MOU with TR Music to cooperate in three areas: exchanges between singers and producers in China and other Asian markets, discovering and fostered new entertainers and in pioneering new entertainment markets.

TR Music was established in 1996 and is considered one of the largest domestic labels in China, with artists including Li Yuchun, winner of 2006's "Super Girls" talent show.

In recent years, China has become a major export market for Korean cultural products, including films, television dramas and pop music.