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Nexon bidder list lacks the biggest candidates

June 05,2019
The list of bidders for a near 50 percent stake in Nexon has been reported in the local press, and the strongest buyers are not on it.

According to the reports, three local companies and two international companies are seeking to acquire almost all the shares of NXC, which owns 47.98 percent of Nexon, a Tokyo Stock Exchange-listed company with a $13 billion market capitalization.

The candidates are Netmarble, Kakao, MBK Partners, New York-based KKR & Co. and Boston-based Bain Capital.

Notably absent from the list is Shenzhen-based Tencent, which operates QQ. It had frequently been mentioned as a possible acquirer because the Hong Kong-listed company has the capital to make the purchase. Tencent already owns 17.7 percent of Netmarble and 5.08 percent of Kakao.

Amazon, Comcast and Electronic Arts, all U.S. companies, were also said to have been interested in making the acquisition, but the most recent reports suggest that they, too, are not on the list of the five bidders.

While Kakao and Netmarble are seen as the most likely bidders at this point, they are probably too small to make the purchase.

A consortium of some kind might be formed in order to finance the deal.

“The final bidders are the five companies, including Netmarble,” said Lee Kyung-il, an analyst at Cape Investment & Securities, “In terms of creating synergies, Netmarble is the likeliest bidder.”

“The uncertainties surrounding the buyout have already been played into the shares, so when the company is selected as a preferred bidder, it will act as a catalyst to boost the stock,” Lee wrote in a report.

Kim Jung-ju is chairman of NXC and controls 98.64 percent of the company directly and through related parties.

Kim has 67.49 percent, his wife 29.43 percent and Wise Kids, a software company owned by Kim, 1.72 percent.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]


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