Two Korean game publishers, Nexon and NCsoft, are reportedly interested in buying Valve, raising cash through stock sales and real estate deals to acquire the maker of Portal, Counter-Strike, and Team Fortress 2. According to a report on Korea's JoongAng Ilbo, CEOs from both companies recently met to discuss acquisition plans.
The report, citing an anonymous industry source, says that NCsoft's Taek Jin Kim and Nexon's Kim Jung-ju conferred at a private developer summit in September on a possible merge and acquisition.
A stock deal between NCsoft and Nexon combined with a sell off of real estate by Nexon have led to speculation that the two companies are amassing cash to facilitate an offer to purchase Valve. In June, Nexon bought a $685 million stake in NCsoft, becoming its largest shareholder.
A recent New York Times profile on Valve revealed that publisher Electronic Arts had previously pursued a purchase of the Bellevue-based game maker. The Times reported a valuation from EA of "well over $1 billion" for Valve. In the same piece, Newell said that Valve would likely "disintegrate" rather than sell to an outside buyer.
Valve is a privately held company.
Nexon currently licenses the Counter-Strike brand from Valve for Counter-Strike Online, a micropayment-driven first-person shooter specifically developed for Asian markets. Valve and Nexon announced in April that Counter-Strike Online 2 was in development for Japan, Korea, China, and other areas in Southeast Asia. Nexon America distributes some of its free-to-play games through Steam, Valve's digital distribution service.
NCsoft reps denied the report, telling Polygon "There is no truth to this rumor."
A spokesperson for Nexon declined to comment on JoongAng Ilbo's report.
Polygon has reached out to Valve seeking comment and will update this story with any additional details.
Update: A Valve spokesperson dismissed the report as a "rumor" in a statement to Polygon.