Kim Jung-ju, the founder of Nexon, has put about half his company up for sale. To be precise, it’s NXC, Nexon’s holding company which Kim owns, that’s for sale, to the tune of 98.64% of its stock. Kim owns 64.49% of the shares, his wife Yoo Jung-hyun 29.43%, and another company Kim owns, Wisekids, at 1.72%. NXC is the largest shareholder in Nexon, holding 47.98% of its shares. With all that in mind, it essentially means that Nexon, or at least a controlling stake in it, is for sale.
According to Yonhap News Agency, the total value of the shares is about $5.32 billion, though the sale price could go as high as $10 billion. Kim is supposedly selling his shares of NXC because he’s “been unhappy with regulatory restrictions against game firms in South Korea,” though NXC denies that statement. The company was fined nearly a million dollars in 2018 for deceptive loot box marketing.
Kim’s legal issues might also be playing a part in his decision. According to Forbes, “In 2016 Kim was found not guilty of bribery charges after being indicted for giving money to a prosecutor, who was his good friend from university” and “Kim resigned as a director of Nexon after the allegation.”
Yonhap speculates that Kakao, Netmarble, Electronic Arts, and Tencent (because of course) could all be potential buyers. Tencent is particularly likely because it operates Nexon’s Dungeon&Fighter in China, which enjoyed “record” revenues in Q3 2018. Maybe I should have put “Tencent gets even bigger” in my 2019 predictions, but that would have seemed a little too obvious.