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Netmarble acquires Canadian game studio for $165 mn

Montreal-based Ludia is set to release new mobile games with DC Comics and Disney titles

Sep 09, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Netmarble Corp.’s role-playing game Marvel Future Revolution
Netmarble Corp.’s role-playing game Marvel Future Revolution


South Korea's Netmarble Corp. has acquired Canada's mobile game developer Ludia Inc. for $165 million, the latest in a series of its cross-border acquisitions aimed at securing more intellectual property to be developed into games.

The acquisition, announced by Netmarble's US unit Jam City Inc., will expand Netmarble's portfolio beyond Marvel titles to blockbusters from DC Comics and Disney, based on which Ludia is set to release games. 

Netmarble has developed a series of Marvel IP-based games, starting with Marvel Future Fight in 2015. Last month, it launched its new Marvel IP-based open-world action role-playing game, Marvel Future Revolution.

"Jam City’s acquisition of Ludia continues to fulfill the company’s mission to bolster its global portfolio of top studios that develop and publish top-grossing internally developed and third-party licensed IP-based games,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ludia’s hit games include Jurassic World: The Game, and Jurassic World Alive, based on the movie franchise from Universal Pictures. It is now expanding into augmented reality-based games.

For the transaction, Jam City raised $350 million in equity and debt financing, in its largest-ever financing. Its shareholder Netmarble and Kabam, a Canadian entertainment company, participated in the funding round, along with funds managed by Fortress Investment Group, a US private equity firm. 

"Jam City will use proceeds from the financing to help further its strategy to build out its portfolio of bold, innovative and novel studios from around the globe," it added in the statement.

(Courtesy of Ludia)
(Courtesy of Ludia)

The Ludia deal followed the 2.5 trillion won ($2.1 billion) purchase by Netmarble of Hong Kong-based SpinX Games Ltd., the world’s No. 3 social casino game publisher. Netmarble will close the largest-ever acquisition by a South Korean game publisher next week, for which it plans to raise 1.8 trillion won in short-term loans.

Last month, Netmarble raised 816.9 billion won by selling shares of KakaoBank Corp. and Kakao Games Corp. The divestments appeared to be aimed at financing its recent series of acquisitions.

Earlier this year, the game developer took a majority stake in Kung Fu Factory, a US independent game company, for an undisclosed sum. Founded in Los Angeles in 2002, Kung Fu Factory is behind the popular WWE Champions mobile game.
Netmarble founder and Chairman Bang Jun-hyuk
Netmarble founder and Chairman Bang Jun-hyuk

Gaming companies are trying to secure more IPs and also expand their existing game IPs for the creation of webtoons, drama series or movies.

Founded in 2000, Netmarble has been headed by Bang Jun-hyuk, a cousin of Bang Si-hyuk who set up HYBE Co., the label behind K-pop sensation BTS.

Chairman Bang owns a 24.12% stake in Netmarble, followed by CJ ENM Co. with 21.78%.

Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings is the third-largest shareholder in Netmarble with a 17.5% stake as of end-June.

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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