[THE INVESTOR] Bluehole Studio, the Korean game developer behind the mega-hit shooting game “PlayUnknown’s Battlegrounds,” has seen its market value soar almost 20 times this year, according to industry data on Sept. 18.
The market value of the unlisted company stood at 3.8 trillion won (US$3.37 billion) or 535,000 won per share as of the day, according to data compiled by Korean over-the-counter information provider 38 Communication. The figure is more than 19-fold jump from 200 billion won early this year.
The “Battlegrounds,” which debuted on March 24, is enjoying enormous popularity around the world, especially Japan and Europe. The game set a record of 1.34 million players going online at the same time on the entertainment platform Steam.
Investors are increasingly showing interest in the company that aims to go public in the next couple of years. China’s Tencent also reportedly sought to acquire a sizeable stake in the company but failed to do so as venture capital firms declined to sell their stakes.
“There is a joke within the industry that venture capital firms now can be divided into two groups -- those who have Bluehole stake and those who don’t,” a local venture capitalist said of the hot stock. “Investors are making all-out efforts to own its shares.”
Chang Byung-gyu, the company’s chairman, hinted earlier this month that the company would seek a stock debut but is not in a hurry. “We will not seek a stock listing immediately but we are considering the idea amid shareholders’ growing interest,” he said.
With the company’s valuation soaring, Chang, the largest shareholder with a 20.4 percent stake, also saw his stock value surge to some 700 billion won this year.
Industry watchers say Chang’s strategy of seeking business expansion through M&As is now finally paying off. The firm acquired Bluehole Ginno Games, the “Battlegrounds” developer, for 25.7 billion won in 2015.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)