Update: Jagex is now at the core of a new publicly-listed Chinese company, Zhongji Holding, which has pledged to make further acquisitions as it expands its presence in the games industry.
Zhongji Holding was listed on the Chinese Stock Market this week, and subsequently bought 51% of Hongtou, the unnamed investor that acquired Jagex back in July. A statement released today described Hongtou's acquisition of Jagex as the first step in a grander plan, of which the creation and listing of Zhongji Holding is another. Zhongji will buy the remaining 49% of Hongtou within the next 12 months.
The process of building up Jagex to bring about an initial acquisition and then taking it forward on a path that sees it taking centre stage in a new public gaming-focused company listed in China, can only be viewed as remarkable, said Jagex CEO Rod Cousens in a statement. It is only now that the plans are starting to take shape for all to see.
Zhongji Holding is part of a more established organisation, Shanghai Zhongji Enterprise Group, which also owns Shandong Hongda Mining. Jagex, which earned $36.1 million in post-tax profit last year, marks its entry into the games business, and significant resources will be invested in expansion and acquisitions going forward.
Zhongji Holding has great ambition in the gaming space and Jagex is at the forefront of its charge, Cousens continued. While an integral part of Zhongji Holding's plans, Jagex's operations remain unchanged and its business as usual for our games, players and our employees.
Jagex is planning open a new office in London, the second after its Cambridge headquarters.
Original Story: Cambridge, UK-based Jagex, known for the MMO RuneScape, is now controlled by a group of Chinese investors, the developer confirmed today. The acquisition is with "immediate effect" and a new Board of Directors has been formed, ultimatley creating "a dedicated, highly focused Chinese-owned games company within a newly created structure of a highly respected and well established local organisation, which is committing significant resources to the new entity."
Jagex, which employs over 320 people in Cambridge and has seen its RuneScape monthly players "number in the multi-millions," said that this deal has "propelled [it] into a new investment cycle to charge forward with growth projects for RuneScape and its franchise extensions, while seeking out additional Mergers and Acquisitions opportunities to ramp up its presence in the gaming space."
Jagex CEO Rod Cousens commented, "Having visibility in China, which is now the biggest gaming market in the world, the new entity is a compelling and attractive proposition for western businesses seeking to broaden their reach in a fast-rising, rapid growth region. It will enable them to tap into a creative and development talent pool to design and develop content for the Chinese consumer and engage with, and expand, a global community.
"Jagex will continue to be operated by the existing management team, which has overseen an impressive trading performance in recent times and driven its iconic franchise, RuneScape to continued growth. It will be business as usual for the Company, its players and its employees post-acquisition."
Jagex noted that the deal was orchestrated by Lisa Pan and Thomas Song on behalf of the incoming shareholders and they will be appointed to the board of Jagex.
Additional reporting by Matthew Handrahan.