March 19, 2020 / 9:03 AM / in 20 days

CVC backs $1.3 bln bid for Chinese games developer Leyou -sources

HONG KONG, March 19 (Reuters) - Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners is backing a bid by Chinese game firm iDreamSky Technology to take over its rival Leyou Technologies Holdings in a $1.3 billion deal, said four people with knowledge of the matter.

The consortium plans to make a binding HK$3.3 per share offer to take Hong Kong-listed Leyou private as soon as early April, the sources said.

The price represents an almost 30% premium to the HK$2.56 average price of Leyou’s shares since January. On Thursday, its shares closed at HK$1.58.

Tencent-backed iDreamSky aims to hold a majority stake after it combines with Leyou, while CVC would have a significant minority stake, said two of the people.

Leyou’s controlling shareholder, Charles Yuk, who owns 52.4% of the company, may retain a small stake after any deal, said one of the sources.

The move comes as iDreamSky, a large mobile game publisher, is investing to develop its own games, a speciality of Leyou which has developed the popular free-shooting games Warframe.

Leyou is also working with Amazon.com to co-produce an online game based on the fantasy literary work “The Lord of the Rings”.

Gaming is widely seen as a steady revenue source as users tend to keep playing popular titles for years.

China’s gaming industry, the world’s biggest, has also received a boost in recent weeks after the coronavirus outbreak forced many Chinese residents to stay at home, driving up game downloads.

iDreamSky has been in talks with Leyou’s Yuk since the second half of 2019, said one of the sources.

More recently, the prospective buyer has been seeking co-investors to help finance a deal.

A representative for iDreamSky said the company would disclose the latest progress to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a timely manner and declined to comment further.

CVC and Leyou did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

iDreamSky on March 12 said it had entered into exclusive talks with Leyou and Yuk about a possible pre-conditional offer to acquire Leyou.

The same day, Leyou announced an exclusivity agreement in a stock exchange filing without naming the potential buyer. (Reporting by Julie Zhu and Kane Wu; editing by Jason Neely)

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