Tencent, in which South Africa’s Naspers holds a one-third stake, is discussing the purchase of SoftBank Group’s majority stake in Supercell Oy in a deal that may value the Finnish game maker at US$9bn, higher than previously thought, according to people familiar with the matter.
The talks are at an early stage and the acquisition may still fall apart, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
SoftBank acquired a majority interest in Helsinki-based Supercell for about $1,5bn in 2013, and increased that to 73% last year.
Bloomberg News reported last month that SoftBank was considering a sale of Supercell, which makes Clash of Clans and other mobile games, and that the deal would value the company at more than $5bn.
Tencent operates China’s most popular messaging services and has been expanding its games business.
Japan’s SoftBank has decided that games aren’t a core part of its business and has already agreed to sell shares in GungHo Online Entertainment.
SoftBank is selling more than $10bn in assets to strengthen its balance sheet and focus on investments in promising start-ups.
SoftBank shares recovered after falling as much as 2,2% and were little changed in Tokyo trading. Tencent’s stock didn’t trade in Hong Kong because of a public holiday.
The Supercell valuation being discussed may change as the negotiations continue, the people said.
Tencent and SoftBank still need to complete due diligence and the price could be adjusted or they could fail to reach final terms, they said.
A spokesman for SoftBank declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Tencent also declined to comment. — © 2016 Bloomberg LP