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Nexon Slides on Report Its Billionaire Founder Is Scrapping Sale

Yuji Nakamura

(Bloomberg) -- Nexon Co.’s shares dived as much as 5% after a South Korean newspaper reported that billionaire Kim Jung-ju has abandoned plans to sell down his controlling stake in the game developer.

Banks working on a deal including UBS Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG plan to inform potential buyers of the Nexon founder’s decision, the Korea Economic Daily cited unidentified people in investment banking.

Kim, who owns 48% of Nexon through holding company NXC Corp., has been looking to pare his stake since January, triggering discussions that at one point involved major players from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to Hillhouse Capital. But after bidding rounds lasting several months, potential buyers were whittled down to a handful of South Korean tech companies and private equity firms. Discussions stalled on disagreements over the price, the Korean Electronic Times reported last week. Nexon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kim sought as much as 10 trillion won ($8.6 billion), according to prior reports. At Nexon’s current market valuation, his stake is worth about $6.1 billion.

Kim founded Nexon in the mid-1990s and pioneered the use of loot boxes, where players purchase virtual merchandise, to help create South Korea’s largest online game publisher. In 2011, he listed Nexon in Japan, tapping a larger and more liquid stock market. Since then, he has slowly lowered his stake through occasional share sales and began talks this year to sell the remainder after deciding to retire.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yuji Nakamura in Tokyo at ynakamura56@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Colum Murphy

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