Shares in the management agency of K-pop sensation BTS more than doubled on their stock market debut on Thursday, making an instant multi-billionaire of its chairman and boosting the seven band members' own fortunes.
The initial public offering of shares in Big Hit Entertainment saw staggering demand, with the public section oversubscribed more than 600 times and applicants receiving only a tiny fraction of their requests.
The firm's centrepiece asset BTS have risen to global stardom in recent years, cementing their prominence in the world's biggest music market in August with their all-English track "Dynamite" topping the US Billboard Hot 100.
The IPO price was set at 135,000 won (US$118) but opened at double that on the Kospi exchange and within minutes hit its daily limit of 351,000 won, platforms showed.
It later slipped back but still had a market capitalisation of 10 trillion won – US$8.7 billion – putting it among South Korea's top 40 most valuable companies, and ahead of cosmetics-maker Amore Pacific.
Big Hit founder and CEO Bang Si-hyuk – who is retaining a stake of more than 36 percent of the firm – was worth US$3.8 billion at the peak, according to Bloomberg News.
The flotation also boosted the BTS members' own wealth – Bang gave each of them more than 68,000 shares in August, worth around US$20 million at the day's high and totalling 1.4 percent of the company.
Analysts had expected the shares to power upwards.
"Considering all the information about the firm now available, the IPO price could be the lowest price we will ever see," said Park Sung-ho of Yuanta Securities.
Some investors cashed in straight away. "I received two shares and just sold them. With 260,000 won in profit, I will just buy a winter coat," said one poster on the South's biggest internet portal Naver.
Others cautioned that the phenomenal rise was unsustainable. "It is rising rapidly. And it will soon fall rapidly," said one. (AFP)