SoftBank And GungHo To Buy 51% Stake In Finland's Mobile Game Maker, Supercell, For $1.53B

on October 16 2013 4:53 AM
Masayashi Son_SoftBank
Softbank Corp President Masayoshi Son speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on July 30, 2013. Reuters/Issei Kato

Japan’s wireless carrier SoftBank Corp. (TYO: 9984) and GungHo Online Entertainment (TYO:3765) will invest $1.53 billion for a 51 percent stake in Supercell, the Finnish mobile-game developer credited with popular games such as "Clash of Clans" and "Hay Day," the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tokyo-based SoftBank is paying 80 percent of the purchase price while its gaming unit, GungHo, will contribute 20 percent to the deal, which values the three-year-old game maker at about $ 3billion, the joint statement said. The deal is expected to be completed in November and is expected to help SoftBank expand beyond its core area of telecommunications.

“With GungHo and Supercell as drivers in content services, the SoftBank Group continues to strive toward the goal of becoming the “No.1 mobile Internet company,”" the statement said.

According to the statement, Helsinki-based Supercell generated $2.5 million daily through virtual sales of goods on its two top free-to-play mobile games, as of May. The company, which made a loss of 1.8 million euros in 2011, turned around to make a profit of 39.2 million euros in 2012 while its sales in 2012 rose 500 times to 78.4 million euros compared to a year earlier, Reuters reported.

“Clash of Clans and Hay Day, reached the top position in Top Grossing ranking of Apple’s App Store in 137 countries and 96 countries, respectively," SoftBank said, in the statement.

Ilkka Paananen, Supercell's CEO, in a telephone interview with Reuters, said: "Now that we have Softbank backing us we can take (our)existing games to new markets and strengthen our position in the big three Asian markets - Japan, Korea and China."

The acquisition is the latest in a series of deals clinched by billionaire Masayoshi Son-controlled SoftBank, in its bid to get a foothold in the growing mobile and Internet industry. SoftBank reported in July that its net profit more than doubled to $2.42 billion from a year earlier in the April-June quarter, as solid performance by GungHo and a switch to international financial reporting standards, boosted earnings, according to MarketWatch.

SoftBank, founded in 1981, has stakes in more than a thousand Internet operations worldwide, including Yahoo Japan Corp, Ustream, and it holds more than a third of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Bloomberg reported. The company’s holdings in Alibaba are estimated to rise more than 1,000 times if the proposed listing of Alibaba takes place.

In June, SoftBank Corp paid $21.6 billion for a 78 percent stake in Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S), giving the Japanese company control of the third-largest U.S. telecom operator.

In 2010, SoftBank had invested $150 million in FarmVille game maker Zynga Game Networker Inc. The company is also in talks to buy a majority stake in U.S. wireless device distributor, Brightstar Corp, in a deal speculated to be worth about $100 billion, according to Reuters, which cited a Nikkei report.

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