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SoftBank to buy Finnish mobile games maker in $1.5 bln deal

By Sophie Knight

TOKYO, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Japanese tech and telecoms group SoftBank Corp is to buy a majority stake in Finnish mobile game maker Supercell, sharing the 150 billion yen ($1.53 billion) price tag with subsidiary GungHo Online Entertainment Inc.

SoftBank said on Tuesday the funding for a 51 percent stake would be split 80/20 with GungHo, with the deal valuing the Finnish company at $3 billion.

Supercell makes games for tablets and smartphones and is best known for hit titles Clash of Clans and Hay Day. The games reached No. 1 in Apple's App Store in 137 and 96 countries respectively, SoftBank said, citing app analytics firm AppAnnie.

"The multiples on the deal look very reasonable. It looks well in line or even lower than where some of the peers would be trading," said Nathan Ramler, head of Asia telecommunications research at Macquarie Capital Securities in Tokyo.

The deal suggests SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son's appetite for foreign M&A has not dimmed since his ambitious $21.6 billion acquisition of U.S. mobile carrier Sprint Corp this year.

The company now has the third largest market capitalisation in Japan and is set for a major windfall as Alibaba, China's top online retailer in which it owns a 36.7 percent stake, is preparing for a stock market listing.

Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen said in a blog post on his company's website that the deal would enable the Finnish company to make its mark in Asia and around the world.