China's Tencent to Acquire 'Clash of Clans' Developer Supercell for $8.6B

Tencent Earnings H 2015
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The Chinese internet giant is buying a controlling 84 percent stake in Supercell from Japan's SoftBank, valuing the Finnish gaming firm at $10.2 billion.

Cementing its position as a heavyweight of the global gaming industry, Chinese internet giant Tencent on Tuesday unveiled a deal to acquire control of Finnish mobile game maker Supercell from Japan's SoftBank Group for nearly $8.6 billion.

The agreement values Supercell at $10.2 billion. Tencent will acquire up to 84 percent of the company in stages, and the Chinese firm is holding discussions with potential co-investors to join in, it said in a statement.

Best known for creating the global gaming phenomenon Clash of Clans, Supercell will retain its independent operations, with its headquarters remaining in Helsinki, Finland. Its existing team will continue to run all operations of the company.  

Clash of Clans was the world’s highest-grossing mobile game by revenue last year, with receipts of $1.35 billion, according to SuperData Research. Supercell's games are played by an estimated 100 million daily active users. 

In parallel to the purchase agreement, Tencent and Supercell have entered into marketing and publishing arrangements regarding the distribution of games developed by the latter company in China. Further details were not disclosed, but Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen said: "We want Supercell to be the world’s best place for creative people to create games. At the same time, this new partnership offers us exciting growth opportunities in China, where we will be able to reach hundreds of millions of new gamers via Tencent’s channels."

Tencent president Martin Lau emphasized the approach his internet company would take towards the gaming hit maker: "Supercell is known for its creativity, focus on player experience and unique culture, which have enabled it to create innovative mobile games that are wildly popular globally. Tencent is dedicated to building long-term strategic partnerships with leading game companies. We are excited that Supercell is joining our global network of game partners, and will preserve their independence and enhance their advantages, thus bringing even more exciting gaming experiences to players around the world."

Tencent's other international gaming holdings include Los Angeles-based Riot Games (maker of League of Legends), which it acquired in 2011 for about $230 million.  

The Supercell transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of the year, subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions. 

Tencent has been a particularly active international dealmaker lately. Earlier this month, it joined Los Angeles-based Tang Media Partners in the establishment of a new television production joint venture with Stuart Ford's foreign sales, financing and production company IM Global. One week later, it followed that agreement by partnering with Hollywood power agency WME-IMG and Sequoia Capital China to create a new China joint venture, WME-IMG China.