Netmarble to acquire bulk of assets in Kabam

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Netmarble to acquire bulk of assets in Kabam

Korea’s Netmarble Games is set to acquire a majority of assets from American game developer Kabam, including its Vancouver studio responsible for the global hit “Marvel: Contest of Champions.”

The deal will close in the first quarter of next year, Netmarble said Tuesday. Although specific numbers were not disclosed, insiders expect the deal to be worth around 1 trillion won ($840 million).

The acquisition raises expectations for Netmarble’s public listing scheduled for the first half of next year. The company passed the Korea Exchange’s preliminary evaluation for an initial public offering on Friday.

Many analysts say Netmarble’s market value could reach up to 10 trillion won. The company surpassed 1 trillion won in sales for the first time last year and raised 1.04 trillion won in accumulated sales this year up to the third quarter.

Kabam is a renowned San Francisco-based game developer whose investors include Alibaba Group, Google Ventures and SK Telecom. Among the company’s four local offices, the studio in Vancouver has developed its most successful game so far: “Marvel: Contest of Champions.”

Released in December 2014, it is still listed among the top 10 games on Google Play in the United States. It has been downloaded over 90 million times so far and raked in $450 million. The studio is set to release “Transformers: Forged to Fight” next year.

Netmarble’s acquisition also includes Kabam’s customer service team in Austin, Texas, and parts of the San Francisco-based business development, marketing and user attraction teams. The assets will give Netmarble an established infrastructure to do business and promote games in the United States.

The Korean game giant aims to raise its standing in the global market, where the company is not performing as well as it is at home. Last year, Netmarble bought $130 million worth of shares from the Los Angeles-based game developer SGN, now Jam City, to become its largest shareholder.

“Whereas our games were weaker in the United States, Kabam and Jam City’s games weren’t as strong in the Korean market, either,” a Netmarble spokesman said. “So we see the deal as a win-win for both to exchange know-how and infrastructure for our respective markets.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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