Chinese online game vendor The9 has announced that it has signed an agreement to purchase a 50 per cent stake in MSN China for USD 200 million.
Microsoft co-founded MSN China with Shanghai Alliance Investment in 2005. The two parties each owned a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture. The9 is purchasing Shanghai Alliance Investment's share, making it a co-owner with Microsoft.
"The purchase of MSN China's stake is part of The9's strategic layout. It is aimed at to build up a cross-business platform...covering instant messaging, cyber game, online communities, and online auctions," says a The9 spokesperson.
As reported earlier, EA purchased a 15 per cent stake in The9 back in May 2007, giving them an interest in the MSN China purchase.
EA, however, has downplayed the connection.
"As noted, EA has a publishing agreement with The9 which includes equity participation in the company," Jeff Brown, a VP of communications for EA, told GamesIndustry.biz. "The9's participation with the ISP has no bearing on our agreement."
The9 runs Vivendi's World of Warcraft game in China and currently has the fourth largest market share of the Chinese cyber game market.