Chinese internet giant TenCent has taken a majority share in Finnish game developer Supercell, the firm behind the best-selling mobile game Clash of Clans, having bought out shares previously owned by Japanese firm SoftBank.
The deal, valued at around $8.6bn (£5.8bn), will expand TenCent's overseas presence, which has until recently been limited to similar stakes in foreign games studios such as Epic Games and Riot Games.
The sale is thought to be the largest ever in gaming mergers and acquisitions, with TenCent acquiring around 84.3 per cent of Supercell via a wholly-owned consortium, including all of SoftBank's 72.2 per cent stake. While the consortium will open up to co-investors, TenCent expects to maintain a 50 per cent voting interest.
"Supercell is know for its creativity, focus on player experience and unique culture, which have enabled it to create innovative mobile games that are wildly popular globally," said Martin Lau, president of TenCent. "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."
SuperCell, which also developed titles Boom Beach and Hay Day, has just 180 employees and brought in pre-tax profits of €880m (£674m) last year from revenues of €2.1bn, making it the largest company in terms of earnings in its native Finland.
Clash of Clans, the developer's most successful title, was the top-grossing mobile game last year, and has run numerous high-profile multi-channel campaigns to bring in more players. Much of SuperCell's revenue comes from in-app purchases, which has helped it consistently expand in a way that other games developers like Rovio have failed to manage.
"Today is about chasing a future for Supercell that we have always dreamed of," said Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell. "We founded Supercell to make great games that people all over the world would play for decades and become part of the rich history of games. Tencent's investment secures what has made all of this possible, which is our independence and unique culture of small and independent teams."
The deal marks the third major asset reshuffle SoftBank has undertaken in the past month, as the firm seeks to bolster its finances following its acquisition of struggling US mobile network Sprint back in 2013. The sale of Supercell should yield a return of almost three times what SoftBank originally invested in the company.
Don’t forget to enter the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards. The Early Bird deadline for submissions is 22 July. More details here.