Speculation that “Clash of Clans” and “League of Legends” will have the same owner reached a fever pitch just recently as their owners reportedly neared a $9 billion deal. “Clash of Clans,” with sales of $1.35 billion last year, is the highest-grossing mobile game. “League of Legends,” with sales of $1.63 billion, is the highest-grossing PC game.
China’s Tencent Holdings built its position in Los Angeles-based Riot Games, publisher of “League of Legends,” from 22 percent in 2008 to 100 percent in 2015.
Now Tencent is seeking a majority interest in Helsinki-based Supercell Oy, publisher of “Clash of Clans,” to create a world-beating video-game portfolio. Japan’s SoftBank owns 73 percent of Supercell, having acquired 51 percent of the Helsinki-based company in 2013 and adding to the holding in 2015. But SoftBank also spent $21.6 billion for 78 percent of Sprint in 2013 and is suffering under a $80 billion pile of debt.
It has been selling off assets to ease that heavy debt load, which was made more onerous with a $4.4 billion share buyback in February, aimed at perking up investor confidence.
Recent efforts to improve its balance sheet include a $10 billion sale of its holdings in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba.
A sale of its Supercell holdings would advance SoftBank’s debt-reduction campaign. And the addition of Supercell’s $2.3 billion in 2015 sales would position Tencent — already Asia’s largest internet company — neck-and-neck with Sony as the world’s video-game leader.