In brief: Industry leaders including Disney, Activision, EA, and Tencent are all interested in acquiring Korean video game publisher Nexon Korea. All are seemingly prepared to pony up nearly $9 billion for a 98.7-percent share in the company. Several PEFs are ready to throw backing into the sale as well.
Video game company Nexon is reportedly up for sale. Nexon is a publisher specializing in online PC and mobile games such as Maple Story, DomiNations, the FIFA Online series, and Combat Arms just to name a few.
According to Korean news outlet Daum, Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju and several of his associates including his wife, own a 98.64-percent stake in Nexon Korea and are looking to sell. However, the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nexon Japan making the sale somewhat complicated. The sale will have to abide by both Korean and Japanese regulations.
"In Japan, securing more than one-third of the total stake in the company is an obligation to acquire a tender offer against a minority shareholder in order to become the largest shareholder," said a Japanese IB official.
Making matters even more difficult is the price of the deal. The shares up for grabs are valued at about 10 trillion won ($8.9 billion).
“As the value of the company’s stake will be enormous, there will be very limited buyers with the ability to purchase Nexon,” Samsung Securities Analyst Oh Dong-hwan told Reuters.
"In Japan, securing more than one-third of the total stake in the company is an obligation to acquire a tender offer against a minority shareholder in order to become the largest shareholder."
Despite the hefty price tag, several parties have already expressed interest in the purchase. Chinese tech heavyweight Tencent is listed as a potential buyer with the aid of Goldman Sachs. Disney, EA, and Activision are also interested.
Additionally, several private equity funds (PEF) in the US and Asia are ready to throw money into the deal including Carlyle, MBK Partners, KKR, Blackstone, and TPG.
Since reports of the sale have hit the wire, shares in Nexon affiliate companies Nexon GT Co and Nat Games Co have gained nearly 30 percent.
Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley will be managing the sale. The purchase will occur at a joint investment briefing session slated for July 17, 2019, in San Fransisco and Hong Kong.