Preferred bidder to be announced soon
Liberty Media, which owns Major League Baseball team Atlanta Braves, tried to purchase Korea’s game publisher Nexon, which is currently up for sale, according to a local media outlet.
Sources in the investment banking industry recently said that Liberty Media took part in the preliminary bidding for Nexon but decided not to forge ahead with the deal because of a lack of cooperation from Nexon.
“Liberty Media group carried out due diligence after partaking in the bidding process in late February. But it recently gave up,” an IB source told the Maeil Economic Daily.
“It seems that Liberty Media was disappointed as Nexon was reluctant to offer information. Plus, the tax evasion investigations on the Nexon chief appears to affect their decision.”
Nexon founder and owner Kim Jung-ju opted to sell the profitable company, which netted some $1 billion in profit last year, in the wake of a long criminal suit over bribery.
Kim was eventually found not guilty on the bribery charges. But earlier this year, a civic group called Spec Watch Korea contended that Kim and others committed tax evasion amounting to $1.5 billion.
The prosecution started looking into the case in February. Worries have surfaced that prosecutors’ investigation of overseas Nexon affiliates might end up suspending the sale.
Around 10 players sought to acquire Nexon, and five reportedly made it to the next round including Tencent, Kakao, MBK Partners, and Bain Capital. Liberty Media was not on the lips of observers or journalists.
Three U.S. companies – Amazon, Electronic Arts and Comcast – reportedly submitted preliminary bids for Nexon late February. But they appear to have failed to make it to the second round.
Leader managers of the sale are Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, which expect the sale price to top $10 billion. After due diligence, the preferred bidder is expected to be announced in April.