By Timothy W. Martin
SEOUL--South Korea's largest mobile-gaming company wants to raise up to 2.7 trillion won ($2.4 billion) in a late-April initial public offering, in what would be the country's biggest stock debut since 2010.
In a securities filing Monday, Netmarble Games Corp., which specializes in smartphone games targeting casual players, said it plans to sell 17 million shares valued at 121,000 won to 157,000 won ($107 to $139) a share. At the high end, Netmarble's valuation would be more than 13 trillion won. Final pricing is scheduled for April 24.
The South Korean firm has a big-name backer: Tencent Holdings Ltd., the world's largest videogame publisher by revenue, which owns 22% of Netmarble through an investment fund.
The IPO's lead managers are NH Investment & Securities Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., according to the filing, with Korea Investment & Securities Co. and Citigroup Inc. serving as managers.
Netmarble, which has developed or produced hits such as "Lineage 2 Revolution" and games involving Marvel and Star Wars characters, said its revenue was 1.5 trillion won in 2016, having grown more than fivefold in two years, according to the filing. Lineage 2, a multiplayer online role-playing game, could be the first South Korean game to surpass $1 billion in revenue, according to industry analysts. Netmarble says it is Asia's fastest-growing mobile-game company.
The Seoul-based firm said the roughly 2 trillion won it raises will go toward paying down existing debt, plus seeding future transactions or investments, according to the filing. Netmarble, like Tencent, has used overseas acquisitions to fuel growth, closing a deal last month for Kabam's Vancouver studio.
South Korea historically has been a subdued IPO market, but it has experienced an uptick in recent years as the country's family-run conglomerates shed off certain divisions. A Netmarble IPO could be the largest since Samsung Life Insurance raised 4.9 trillion won in 2010.
Netmarble says it was established in 2000 and has more than 3,500 employees.
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