China’s ByteDance is in talks to buy into mobile games publisher CMGE Technology Group as the owner of short video app TikTok moves to strengthen business growth, Reuters reported.
The deal would come as the gaming industry continues to benefit from COVID-19 pandemic countermeasures which have forced people to stay at home, boosting game downloads.
ByteDance plans to buy part or all of the 27.6 percent CMGE stake held by Fairview Ridge Investment, controlled by CMGE chairman Xiao Jian and vice chairman Sin Hendrick.
ByteDance is looking to offer HK$4 to HK$5 ($0.52 to $0.64) per share to purchase the stake. The range represents a premium of 30 percent to 62 percent above the stock’s Monday close of HK$3.08.
Xiao and Sin are the biggest shareholders of Hong Kong-listed CMGE, holding 33.9 percent and 32.6 percent respectively through a number of entities, regulatory filings showed.
A 27.6 percent stake is worth $275 million, Reuters calculations showed based on CMGE’s market capitalisation of $997 million on Monday.
Eight-year-old ByteDance has identified gaming as its next strategic growth area and has been scouting for investment opportunities for months to build up its gaming portfolio, three of the people said.
Market leader Tencent Holdings proposed a $1.5 billion acquisition of Leyou Technologies Holdings in August. That made CMGE more of a target for ByteDance.
A successful transaction could make ByteDance CMGE’s single largest shareholder.
ByteDance has already been relatively successful with casual mobile games that mainly make money through advertising. It plans to release its first “hardcore” game in the April-June quarter.
Hardcore games can be a steady source of revenue as users tend to keep playing popular titles for years and are willing to make in-app purchase for items that enhance game play, such as weapons.
CMGE boasts the second-largest intellectual property reserves among Chinese games firms after Tencent.
ByteDance entered gaming in early 2019 with casual titles. By the end of last year, 13 of its games had become hits on Apple Inc’s App Store in China. It has a games division with around 2,000 employees working on hardcore games.