SoftBank exploring stake sale in Finnish game developer Supercell

A man looks at his phone as he walks past an advertising poster of the SoftBank telecommunications company in Tokyo October 16, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

SoftBank Group Corp. is considering a sale of its stake in Supercell Oy after receiving interest in the Finnish gaming company, according to people familiar with the matter.

Supercell, which makes games for mobile phones including Clash of Clans and Boom Beach, has held talks with potential strategic buyers based in China, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. The process is at an early stage and SoftBank may choose not to sell the stake, they said.

A sale could value the whole of Supercell at more than $5 billion, one of the people said.

A spokesman for SoftBank declined to comment. Representatives for Supercell didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside of regular business hours.

SoftBank acquired a majority stake in the Helsinki-based developer for about $1.5 billion in 2013. It increased its stake to 73 percent in May last year, according to a statement. The rest of the company is owned by Supercell’s management and employees.

Supercell has struggled to translate the global popularity of Clash of Clans into subscriber numbers in SoftBank’s home country of Japan, a market that rivals the U.S. in size. Buddy Marini, the head of Supercell’s Japan operations, has called the country “the toughest market in the world.”

Asian companies have been investing in game developers in recent years, seeking exposure to the fastest-growing part of the gaming industry.

Tencent Holdings Ltd. in 2014 invested $126 million in Glu Mobile Inc. a San Francisco-based company’s that has produced smartphone games featuring Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry. Mobile developer Kabam Inc., also based in San Francisco, received a $120 million investment from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2014, as part of a plan to distribute titles like Lord of the Rings in China.

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Bloomberg

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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