South Korea’s Netmarble joins consortium to acquire Nexon Holdings

South Korea

South Korea’s gaming giant, Netmarble Netmarble said it will form a consortium to bid for a controlling stake in Nexon’s holding company, the latest to show interest in a deal that could be worth about $9 billion after Kakao.

Netmarble Corp and Kakao Corp are backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd and, according to sources, the Chinese tech giant too is considering a bid.

Kim Jung-ju, founder of Nexon, the country’s biggest gaming company, plans to sell a 98.64 percent stake in NXC Corp, held by himself and related parties including his wife, the Korea Economic Daily newspaper has reported.

Selling the stake to overseas companies would weaken the competitiveness of the industry in the country, said Netmarble, which controls over a quarter of South Korea’s mobile gaming market. Tencent has a 17.66 percent stake in Netmarble.

“We believe the tangible and intangible values of Nexon are important assets to Korea,” Netmarble said in a statement, adding it had been considering acquiring Nexon for two months and decided to participate in the bid a month ago.

Nexon shares rose more than 2 percent after Netmarble’s announcement on Thursday, in a flat wider market.