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Co-founder of Chinese game developer XD plans to relocate overseas - internal memo

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By Josh Ye

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The chief executive and co-founder of Shanghai-based Chinese gaming firm XD Inc plans to leave China next year, according to an internal notice seen by Reuters, citing family reasons and rising gaming opportunities overseas.

Huang Yimeng, 40, who was ranked last year by Forbes to be worth $1.2 billion, said he was making preparations to move abroad "after the next summer break", without disclosing the destination.

His announcement, which XD confirmed and said primarily stemmed from family reasons, comes however as a bruising crackdown by Beijing on the gaming industry prompts many local companies to look abroad. China's zero-COVID policy, which gave rise to a two-month-long lockdown in Shanghai, is also driving an emigration wave.

XD, which Huang co-founded in 2009, made a name for itself in China as a publisher of small independent games and was among the first companies to receive a license earlier this year after Beijing lifted a nearly nine-month freeze on gaming approvals.

"I personally place equal priority on career and family, and in the future our company's overseas operations will count for a higher proportion," Huang said in the memo, adding that his vision was for XD to become a global company.

While he did not mention Beijing's regulatory policies or Shanghai's lockdown, which he lived through, he said he hoped China's COVID policy could be relaxed.

"The ideal situation is that our domestic COVID policies can be more relaxed a year from now, and international relations can be more calm and open, in which case we all can frequently move about depending on the needs of our work and life," Huang said in the memo.

He declined to comment further when reached by Reuters and referred to the company's statement.

Huang will frequently travel between China and overseas and does not plan to take up a foreign nationality, XD said, adding that his plan was unrelated to the company's current situation and future outlook.

His position will also remain unchanged and the company first forged a plan to expand overseas in 2021, it added.

(Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Brenda Goh, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Susan Fenton)