South Korea’s Netmarble, Kakao, MBK submit bids for Nexon parent: report

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FILE PHOTO: Logos of online gaming firm Nexon are seen at its main office building in Seoul December 14, 2011. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean tech firms Netmarble and Kakao as well as private equity fund MBK Partners submitted initial bids for acquiring NXC Corp, which controls gaming firm Nexon, the Seoul Economic Daily said.

Kim Jung-ju, founder of Nexon, is looking to offload a 98.64 percent stake in NXC, held by himself and related parties including his wife, in one of South Korea’s biggest deals that could be worth as much as $9 billion, local media reports have said.

Netmarble and Kakao, which are both backed by Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent, had earlier flagged their interest in acquiring control of Nexon, South Korea’s biggest gaming company.

MBK Partners plans to submit the initial bid for NXC, a source familiar with the bid told Reuters, adding the deadline for bidding is noon Thursday New York time.

Netmarble, Kakao and MBK Partners declined to comment.

Earlier media reports said Netmarble, which controls over a quarter of South Korea’s mobile gaming market, would partner with Tencent and MBK Partners in the bid.

Separately, Korea Economic Daily reported that U.S. private equity firms Blackstone and Bain Capital also participated in the initial bids. But Blackstone did not submit a bid, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Blackstone and Bain Capital were not immediately available for comment.

Reuters reported in January that Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley are running the sale, according to sources. Deutsche Bank declined to comment while Morgan Stanley was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, Kane Wu and Heekyong Yang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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