Tencent has agreed to buy up to 84 percent of Supercell from Softbank Group in a deal valuing the Finnish gaming studio at $10.2 billion.
The valuation makes 2010-founded Supercell – the creator of Clash of Clans and Hay Day franchises – the highest valued startup in Nordics ever. The title has so far belonged to Skype, which was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011.
“Supercell will retain its independent operations, the headquarters will remain in Helsinki, Finland and its existing team will continue to run all operations of the company,” the companies said in a statement.
“It is important to us that Supercell stays true to its roots by sustaining its unique culture, continuing to be headquartered in Finland, and representing its home proudly,” said Martin Lau, President of Tencent.
Every Supercell employee is already an equity holder in Supercell and the partnership with Tencent will significantly enhance this commitment, the companies said.
The Helsinki-based gaming studio’s Clash of Clans and Hay Day games have been topping charts for several years already. It was the first to tap massive boom of so-called free-to-play games on tablets.
“We founded Supercell to make great games that people all over the world would play for decades and become part of the rich history of games. We’ve made excellent progress – over the past six years, we’ve created four top games that are now played by over 100 million people every single day,” said Supercell co-founder and CEO Ilkka Paananen.
Supercell’s China Move
“Tencent’s investment secures what has made all of this possible, which is our independence and unique culture of small and independent teams. We want Supercell to be the world’s best place for creative people to create games. At the same time, this new partnership offers us exciting growth opportunities in China, where we will be able to reach hundreds of millions of new gamers via Tencent’s channels,” Paananen said.
In parallel to the transaction, Tencent and Supercell entered into marketing and publishing arrangements regarding the distribution of Supercell’s games in China.
The talks of the deal have surfaced for weeks and does not come as a surprise from Softbank as it has recently been under stress to clear some of its debt and thus they have already said that they would also sell their stake in Alibaba.
“Our decision to divest our shares is driven by our continued focus on monetization for the benefit of our shareholders and on capital structure discipline, both key pillars of our SoftBank 2.0 strategy,” Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group, said in a statement.
The deal makes Tencent one of the most prominent players in the global PC and mobile gaming market. They already own the majority stake of Riot Games, which are behind League of Legends. The company started out as a messenger product and then later expanded their business into many verticals. Today, they more of an investment holding company with subsidiaries in many businesses.
The transaction, which is currently expected to close during the third calendar quarter of 2016, is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions.