August 1, 2021

Five candidates for Nexon, the pearl of South Korean video games

The acquisition of Nexon is taking shape. According to the latest rumors, five buyers have been selected by the South Korean video game giant: the investment fund Bain Capital, the couple formed by the MBK Partners fund and the number two South Korean video game specialist Netmarble, a unidentified venture capital firm, Chinese tech giant Tencent, which has licensing deals to distribute games from Nexon in China, and South Korean social media and online services specialist Kakao. Kakao would be worried to see the local pearl that is Nexon go abroad.

A time mentioned, the candidacies of the Americans Electronic Arts and Amazon would not have been selected for this operation estimated at 15 trillion won (11.7 billion euros) and which should represent the largest acquisition ever seen in South Korea. South. The study of applications should begin in early April. The sale, meanwhile, is expected to be officially announced in October.

Surprise sale

Revealed in early January, the sale surprised. The founder of the group in 1989, Kim Jung-ju, wants to sell 98.64% of the shares in NXC Corp., the parent company of Nexon. Mr. Kim personally owns 67.49% of the shares. His wife, Yoo Jung-hyun, owns 29.43%. Mr. Kim’s personal company, Wisekids, owns 1.72%.

On February 12, the company announced record results in 2018 thanks to strong online game sales abroad. Its profits jumped 9% year on year to 980.6 billion won, and sales increased 8% to 2.5 trillion won.

The continued popularity of online games Dungeon Fighter or MapleStory, associated with that of new games for smartphones, such MapleStory M, contributed to the results, the company said.

A lawsuit for corruption

Neither Mr. Kim nor the group’s management communicated on the reasons for the session. According to the South Korean site Hankyung, the leader is tired of the ever stricter rules governing his activity and the corruption lawsuit, filed in 2016, after revelations according to which he would have paid 920 million won (719,000 euros) in bribes. de-vin to Jin Kyung-joon, a childhood friend turned prosecutor. But, for lack of evidence, he emerged innocent from this trial. A controversial judgment that sparked protests and anti-corruption movements.

It is also not excluded that Mr. Kim has other projects. As business angel, he has invested in various fields. In 2013, he partnered with Moon Express, a Californian company specializing in lunar exploration, subsequently selected by NASA for its Lunar Catalyst project for a vehicle that could land on the Moon. Kim Jung-ju has also invested in Lit Motors, an American start-up engaged in the development of electric vehicles, or in Exo, also American, which produces protein bars made from crickets.