Nexon looks to further deals to spur its growth

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Nexon looks to further deals to spur its growth

Nexon, the online gamemaker behind “MapleStory” and “Combat Arms,” is considering “transformative” deals as it seeks expansion in Asia and the West.

“Our deal pipeline is as robust as it’s ever been both in Asia and in the West,” Chief Financial Officer Owen Mahoney said in an interview yesterday. Mahoney is replacing Choi Seung-woo as chief executive officer starting March 25, the company said Thursday.

Nexon although originated from Korea, is headquartered in Tokyo and its stocks are traded in the Japanese market.

Nexon is looking for acquisitions or alliances as a way to boost game programming talent and expand its user base. The games maker is betting on deals to stoke growth after buying stakes in four companies last year and acquiring a fifth, saying in September it would invest in Shiver Entertainment, founded by former Zynga Chief Operating Officer John Schappert.

“There are a couple I have my eye on in a very big way and those would be transformative,” said Mahoney following an interview with Bloomberg TV in Tokyo. He did not name targets.

Mahoney, 47, who joined Nexon in 2010 from Electronic Arts, the second-largest U.S. games maker, is adding his name to a short list of non-Japanese running companies in the country. Others include Nissan Motor CEO Carlos Ghosn and Christophe Weber, who was picked as the planned successor to lead the Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Nexon CEO Choi is retiring after 15 years at the company.

Nexon net income is expected to jump 38 percent this year to 41.5 billion yen, or about $407.7 million, the average of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The game maker’s stock value is down 14 percent this year, while the Topix has slumped 9.8 percent.

In September, the company agreed to buy Thingsoft, an online game development studio based in Seoul that helped develop the FIFA Online 1 title. In July, Nexon announced strategic investments in Redwood City, California-based Rumble Entertainment and Baltimore, Maryland-based SecretNewCo.

The company on Thursday reported a net loss of 4.4 billion yen for the fourth quarter, compared with 552 million yen in net income a year ago. Revenue in the three months ended December rose 12 percent to 34.5 billion yen, Nexon reported yesterday.

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