Caesars Interactive Entertainment social casino subsidiary Playtika is reportedly the target in an acquisition move by South Korean online games developer Netmarble Games which the Korea Herald and Reuters outlets claim will be the “largest acquisition deal made by a South Korean game company since No. 1 player Nexon and NCSoft jointly attempted to takeover Electronic Arts for 4 trillion won in 2012.”
Netmarble is apparently prepared to pay up to the equivalent of $4 billion for the Israeli-based gaming company and has signed a letter of intent to participate in the bidding on July 7 after negotiating a substantial contribution from Korean institutional investors.
Sources have told Korean media that Netmarble is keen to make the acquisition in order to increase its brand value and shore up the balance sheet ahead of its planned future initial public offering. The game developer has been seeking a global M&A target since early this year after hiring Morgan Stanley to explore potential deals.
There is reportedly intense interest among several companies in acquiring Playtika, which is presumably being sold off to reduce CIE’s parent company’s debt burden and placate creditors.
Playtika posted revenues of $725 million in 2015, forecasting $900 million in 2016 and earnings of around $350 million. In contrast, Netmarble generated revenues of $868 million last year in 2015 from its mobile games.
The Reuters news service reports that Netmarble has ambitions to expand beyond Asia into the European and North American markets, and if successful the acquisition of Playtika could double Netmarble sales, which soared 86 percent y-o-y in 2015, breaching the one trillion won benchmark for the first time.
Media reports suggest that Netmarble is not necessarily interested in the gambling elements within Playtika, and is more focused on the contribution which the social gaming company could make to its existing (mobile) business activities.
If Playtika is sold at the current valuation, it would generate a significant profit for CIE, which acquired the company back in 2011 for $100 million (see previous reports), although since buying the company CIE has enhanced its value through development and consolidating other social casino gaming interests beneath its umbrella.