The deal will value Supercell at $10.2 billion, and following the deal — which is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016 — Supercell will “retain its independent operations” and keep its main headquarters in Finland.
“Supercell is known for its creativity, focus on player experience, and unique culture, which have enabled it to create innovative mobile games that are wildly popular globally,” said Martin Lau, president of Tencent, in a statement. “Tencent is dedicated to building long-term strategic partnerships with leading game companies. We are excited that Supercell is joining our global network of game partners and will preserve their independence and enhance their advantages, thus bringing even more exciting gaming experiences to players around the world. 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.”
Founded out of Helsinki in 2010, Supercell launched a series of mobile games, netting the company billions of dollars in revenue. Earlier this year, Supercell revealed that the four games it currently has on the market had nabbed more than 100 million daily active users (DAUs), across Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, and Clash Royale.
Japanese telecoms and internet giant SoftBank bought a 51 percent stake in Supercell for $1.5 billion in 2013, a stake it increased by 22 percent two years later. At the time, VentureBeat learned that Supercell was valued at around $5.5 billion, and recent reports indicated that Supercell was being valued at more than $9 billion with this latest transaction. That figure actually stands at more than $10 billion, based on today’s yen-to-dollar conversion rate, and makes Supercell the first European tech startup to pass the $10 billion valuation mark.
As a result of this deal, SoftBank will no longer hold any shares in Supercell. Every Supercell employee already is an equity shareholder in Supercell but will now “take part in a new long-term incentive plan” to sell their vested shares back to Tencent. The consortium established to acquire Supercell is controlled entirely by Tencent, but it is currently in discussions with other investors to join the consortium, though Tencent says it will retain a voting interest of 50 percent.
As for SoftBank, well, it has been under increasing pressure from investors, leading it to shift its more valuable assets — and shortly after today’s acquisition was announced, news emerged that SoftBank President Nikesh Arora was to step down.
Tencent is no stranger to video games — as of last year it owns 100 percent of League of Legends-maker Riot Games, having bought a controlling stake in the Los Angeles-based company four years prior. The mobile gaming market hit almost $35 billion in revenues last year, and 2016 is expected to be the first year that mobile games surpass PC and consoles in revenues — in a market that’s worth around $100 billion in total.
That gives some idea as to why Tencent is going all-in on this deal with Supercell, with reports now suggesting that it now owns around 13 percent of the global gaming market.