In 1994, Kim Jung-ju founded Nexon, South Korea’s largest gaming juggernaut. He now owns NXC, Nexon’s holding company, and is putting up 98.64 percent of the stocks up for sale, worth an estimated ten billion dollars.
Nexon made its name with wildly popular online games like Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds and KartRider. When it went public in 2011, the company raised $1.2 billion, which is one of the biggest ever for a gaming company.
Website Hankyung (via tipster Sang) that Kim personally owns 64.49 percent of the shares, while his wife, director Yoo Jung-hyun, owns another 29.43 percent. Kim’s personal company, Wisekids, owns yet another 1.72 percent.
Nexon, Nexon America and Nexon Europe are under the NXC umbrella as are other corporate entities including a pet food company.
A source tells website Hankyung, Kim is apparently tired after being worn down by increased regulations and a prolonged legal battle over alleged corruption. Kim was found innocent.
Korean game site Gamemeca connected NXC about the report, and the company issued the following comment (via Sang):
The reports about CEO Kim Jung-ju looking to sell his shares because of increasing regulations and mentioning about being tired from regulations is different from the truth. We are in the process of verifying the sales and it’s taking a bit of time because of issues with our official announcement. Regardless of that fact, we are trying to make an announcement about this as soon as possible but it may be in the days that follow.
This is likely to be the biggest M&A in Korean history. The name that’s being tossed around as a possible suitor is China’s gaming giant Tencent.
Earlier this year, The Investor quoted Kim as saying, “I won’t be passing down Nexon to my kids.” He also promised to donate around $100 million for charitable works, including helping young entrepreneurs and building hospitals for children.