The biggest video game company in South Korea is going up for sale. Kim Jung-ju, the company’s founder and owner of NXC, is putting up 98.64% of Nexon’s stock for sale, estimated to be worth 10 trillion won (about $9 billion).
Nexon was founded back in 1994 by Kim Jung-ju and Jake Song. Its first title, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, was released in 1996 and continues to be serviced to this day. They are probably best known for the MapleStory games, first created in 2003 by Wizet, which was later absorbed by Nexon. Nexon has made a variety of other games, including Dungeon Fighter Online and Mabinogi. The company’s headquarters is currently based in Tokyo, Japan.
As reported by the Korea Economic Daily newspaper (via Reuters,) there are a few potential buyers. There are “domestic industry rivals” Kakao Corp and Netmarble Corp, Chinese giant Tencent Holdings, and American video game publisher Electronic Arts. The newspaper providing these names cited unnamed industry sources.
According to Kotaku, the Korean website Hankyung (via tipster Sang) says that the stock for sale is split like this:
- Kim Jung-ju personally owns 64.49% of Nexon’s stocks.
- Director Yoo Jung-hyun, his wife, owns another 29.43%.
- Wisekids, Kim’s personal company, holds 1.72%.
A source speaking to Hankyung mentioned that Kim is selling his stocks because he’s been worn down by increased regulations and the aftermath of a prolonged legal battle in which he was accused of corruption (but found innocent).
The Korean game site Gamemeca asked NXC about the report and they replied (translation provided by Kotaku via Sang) that the truth is something else. They added:
We are in the process of verifying the sales and it’s taking a bit of time because of issues with our official announcement. Regardless of that fact, we are trying to make an announcement about this as soon as possible but it may be in the days that follow.
Given that two of the possible buyers are major video game companies, this could shake up the Asian video game market quite a bit. Only time will tell who winds up buying the giant of Korean gaming.