Netmarble, Kakao and others submit final bids for Nexon

KKR & Co, Bain Capital and MBK Partners also join the fray, but there's no direct deal from Tencent

Netmarble, Kakao and others submit final bids for Nexon

South Korea’s Netmarble and Kakao and three other private equity firms have submitted their final bids to acquire a controlling interest in games company Nexon.

The sale of the company has been rolling on since last year after company founder Kim Jung-ju decided to sell a 98.64 per cent stake in holding company NXC Corp, which owns a 47.98 per cent stake in Nexon.

An investment bank official, speaking with Yonhap News Agency (via The Korea Herald), said that companies that had been shortlisted as the final five bidders - Netmarble, Kakao, KKR & Co, Bain Capital and MBK Partners - have submitted their last bids.

Tencent is not thought to be amongst the bidders, despite expectation it would enter the fray However, the Chinese publishing giant does own stakes in both Netmarble (17.7 per cent) and Kakao (6.7 per cent).

The deal for Nexon is expected to be worth up to $11 billion, with a consortium likely to be formed to finance such a large deal.

Nexon growth

Nexon had a record-breaking 2018. It grew revenue up eight per cent year-on-year to $2.29 billion, while net income jumped 90 per cent to nearly $1 billion.

The publisher also had a strong Q1 2019, increasing sales by three per cent year-on-year to $849 million, while net income exceeded expectations by hitting $487 million.

Nexon - which is headquartered in Japan but has a significant interest in South Korea - and other games companies could face headwinds in the coming years however after the World Health Organisation added gaming addiction to its International Classification of Diseases.

While South Korea's Ministry of Welfare supports the decision, the Ministry of Culture has convened an emergency panel in opposition of this support.

In early May, a survey led by the Seoul National University claimed that such a classification could cost South Korea $9.45 billion in lost revenue over three years.

Head of Content

Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.