Nexon founder said to shelve sale of $13b Asian game developer

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

Nexon Co.’s founder has shelved a sale process for his stake in the $13 billion Asian game developer, people with knowledge of the matter said.

South Korean billionaire Kim Jung-ju couldn’t reach an agreement on price with suitors, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Kim owns nearly half of Tokyo-listed Nexon through his holding company NXC Corp.

Private equity firms Hillhouse Capital, KKR & Co. and Blackstone Group LP were among parties considering bids for the Nexon stake earlier in the process, Bloomberg News has reported. Chinese internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd. was considering teaming up with other suitors for a joint offer, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier.

Kim could still decide to revive the sale at a later date, the people said. Representatives for NXC and Nexon didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours. The Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported Kim’s plans to halt the sale process on Wednesday in Seoul, citing unidentified people.

Kim founded Nexon in the mid-1990s and pioneered the use of loot boxes, where players purchase virtual merchandise, to help create South Korea’s largest online game publisher. In 2011, he listed Nexon in Japan, tapping a larger and more liquid stock market. Since then, he has slowly lowered his stake through occasional share sales.