SoftBank buys stake in Finland's Supercell for $1.5B

SoftBank is buying a 51 per cent stake in Supercell in a deal that values the Finnish mobile game maker at $3 billion (€2.21 billion).

Reuters reported that the Japanese technology and telecoms group, which acquired U.S. operator Sprint for $21.6 billion earlier this year, and its GungHo mobile games maker unit are paying 150 billion yen ($1.53 billion or €1.13 billion) for the stake. Supercell is known for its hit games such as "Clash of Clans" and "Hay Day," and has a long-standing relationship with GungHo.

On the company blog, Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen quoted SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son as saying that the move forms part of SoftBank's quest to "become the No. 1 mobile Internet company."

"The combination of tablets, mobile and the free-to-play business model has created a new market for games, one that will be accessible to billions of consumers, more people than ever before in the history of games," Paananen said. "This truly is a new era of gaming and has opened up exciting opportunities for new kinds of companies."

Paananen also sought to reassure Finns that the company operations would remain in Finland and Supercell would continue to pay taxes in Finland as an independent company. "I think more and more people in this country are realising that there is life after Nokia!" he added.

According to Reuters, market researcher Newzoo estimates global game revenues across all platforms will reach $86.1 billion by 2016 as the number of gamers reaches 1.55 billion. It expects the fastest growth to come from mobile gaming.

In separate reports, SoftBank also indicated it is in talks to buy U.S. wireless device distributor Brightstar Corp in a deal that could be worth more than $1 billion.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Supercell post
- see this separate Reuters article

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