What will happen to NewJeans comeback plans with the internal conflict between HYBE and ADOR?

Amidst the conflict between the entertainment giant HYBE and its subsidiary, ADOR, there is growing concern about whether NewJeans' comeback, scheduled to begin on April 27, will proceed as planned. 

Recently, HYBE accused Min Hee Jin, the head of ADOR, and A, an executive director, of an 'attempted takeover.' Conversely, Min Hee Jin alleged that the conflict had arisen from 'concept copying' by Bang Si Hyuk, the chairman of HYBE. 

On April 23, just a day after demanding Min Hee Jin's suspension and resignation, initiating an audit, HYBE CEO Park Ji Won, issued a statement to the company members. Park urged ADOR members to "remain steadfast in their duties" and to "do their utmost for NewJeans' comeback and growth," despite the heightened anxiety surrounding the situation.

From HYBE's standpoint, this signifies an intention to continue with NewJeans' activities as scheduled without disruption. NewJeans is set to release a new single on May 24, with the music video for their new CF song "Bubble Gum" slated for release on April 27. Additionally, a large-scale fan meeting is planned at the Tokyo Dome along with their official debut in Japan in June.

CEO Park Ji Won commented, regarding the allegations against Min Hee Jin, "This case unmistakably reveals an attempt to take control of the company." He added, "If the findings from our audit, sourced both internally and externally, are further substantiated, decisive actions will be taken." Park also noted, "The parties involved are either failing to cooperate with our legitimate audit or outright refusing to respond," and "many of their claims lack credibility or evidence."

HYBE's 'attempted takeover' claim centers on an ongoing audit focused on A, the executive who transferred from HYBE to ADOR earlier this year. A, who was responsible for investor relations (IR) and financial matters at HYBE, is suspected of leaking confidential information during the transition.

It has been reported that HYBE has identified instances where ADOR's management contemplated selling the company to global sovereign wealth or private equity funds. Last month, A's work diary included entries like "contract modification agreement," "attraction of external investors 1 and 2," and "strategies for HYBE's sale." Additionally, phrases such as "Make sure we are untouchable" and "eventually exit" were noted. These entries suggest discussions about pressuring HYBE's holders to sell their stakes to Min Hee Jin, potentially making her a major shareholder or establishing an independent corporation to attract investment.

ADOR, established by Min Hee Jin under HYBE in 2021, is 80% owned by HYBE. Min Hee Jin acquired an 18% stake last year, making her the second-largest shareholder. One company insider remarked, "Although HYBE holds the majority of management rights and shares, Min Hee Jin also retains the intellectual property rights (IP) of the artists, making it not entirely impossible for her to apply pressure."

However, Min Hee Jin refuted the claims, stating, "I have never met with any investors to take control of the company," and "this situation arose because I reported HYBE-related internal issues from a month ago up to last week." The 'internal issues' Min referred to concern the alleged concept of plagiarism by ILLIT, a rookie girl group under Belift Lab, a subsidiary of HYBE, which debuted at the end of March. Min stressed, "This is a legitimate protest to safeguard the cultural achievements of our affiliated artist, NewJeans," and "Therefore, following thorough discussions with the NewJeans members and legal representatives, ADOR has released its official stance." Nonetheless, HYBE asserts, "The allegations regarding management rights were premeditated and unrelated to ILLIT's debut."

This incident has also raised concerns about HYBE's 'multi-label system,' in which it has acquired several planning companies to expand. Starting with Big Hit Music, the agency of BTS, HYBE subsequently acquired Source Music, Pledis Entertainment, Ithaca Holdings, Belift Lab, QC Media Holdings, and Exile Music. While each label maintains its independence, concerns have arisen about conflicting artist activity schedules.

CEO Park remarked, "While HYBE has successfully implemented the multi-label system, we have encountered many challenges. Such issues represent further learning experiences as we have consistently pursued our vision," and "we will continuously assess and enhance our approach to ensure the growth and development of NewJeans and ILLIT."