Tencent joins Netmarble in Korean consortium to purchase Nexon

The consortium, which had been originally comprised of Netmarble and Kakao, is looking to keep Nexon in Korea.

Netmarble has been trying to keep Nexon in Korea (instead of going to a western company like EA or Disney) by creating a consortium of Korean companies to invest in the company. According to the Korea Times (via GamesIndustry.biz), Tencent has now joined the investment consortium.

We've previously reported that Netmarble was looking to invest in Nexon, though the details were somewhat unclear. Reuters reported on January 30 that Netmarble was teaming up with Kakao Corp (a large Korean internet company) to bring together a substantial amount of money to keep Nexon in Korea. Now that Tencent and private equity firm MBK Partners have joined the fray, the deal has been valued at 10 trillion won (just under $9 billion US).

"Netmarble reviewed the acquisition of Nexon two months ago and made a final decision a month ago," a Netmarble official said to the Korean Times. "We believe that the tangible and intangible value of Nexon is a very important asset for the country. If Nexon is sold to an overseas firm, the Korean game industry and ecosystem could be damaged and its competitiveness weakened."

Nexon has been around since 1994, founded by Kim Jung-Ju and Jake Song, and has been almost wholly owned and controlled by Kim and his wife, Yoo Jung-hyun. According to Korean newspaper, Daum, "Kim and other related parties hold 98.64% of NXC shares, while NXC owns 47.98% of Nexon, which is listed in Japan. Nexon Korea is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nexon Japan."

It's worth noting that Tencent is also Netmarble's third-largest shareholder, with a 17.7 percent stake. If this consortium does indeed acquire Nexon, Tencent (a Chinese company) will be able to exert a lot more control in the Korean games market than it currently does. Tencent has been notoriously hands-off in the companies that it has invested in, including Epic Games, but that could change at any time, especially if the Chinese game market goes through another freeze.

The bidding will commence on February 21, 2019.

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