Chinese antitrust regulator blocks Tencent’s $5.3 billion video games merger

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FILE PHOTO: A Tencent logo is seen at its booth at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

July 10, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) -China’s market regulator on Saturday said it would block Tencent Holdings Ltd’s plan to merge the country’s top two videogame streaming sites, Huya and DouYu, on antitrust grounds.

Tencent first announced plans to merge Huya and DouYu last year in a tie-up designed to streamline its stakes in the firms, which were estimated by data firm MobTech to have an 80% slice of a market worth more than $3 billion and growing fast.

Tencent is Huya’s biggest shareholder with 36.9% and also owns over a third of DouYu, with both firms listed in the United States, and worth a combined $5.3 billion in market value.

The State Administration Of Market Regulation (SAMR) said the decision was made after reviewing additional concessions proposed by Tencent for the merger.

Reuters first reported SAMR’s plan to block the deal on Monday.

SAMR said Huya and DouYu’s combined market share in the video game live streaming industry would be over 70% and their merger would strengthen Tencent’s dominance in this market, given Tencent already has over 40% market share in the online games operations segment.

Huya and DouYu are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, as China’s most popular video game streaming sites, where users flock to watch e-sports tournaments and follow professional gamers.

Tencent said in a statement it “will abide by the decision, comply with all regulatory requirements, operate in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and fulfill our social responsibilities.”

The deal termination comes amid an ongoing crackdown on Chinese tech companies from the government. Earlier this year, the anti-monopoly regulator placed a record $2.75 billion fine on e-commerce giant Alibaba for engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

Huya and DouYu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the SAMR decision.

(Reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)





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