UPDATE 1-Tencent targets mobile chat app for overseas growth

Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:00am EDT

(Adds details on Tencent's strategy for chatting app)

SHANGHAI, March 20 (Reuters) - Tencent Holdings, China's largest online gaming and social networking company, will heavily invest in its popular Weixin mobile chatting application to attract more overseas users, the company said on Wednesday.

Weixin, called WeChat in English-speaking markets, already has more than 300 million users, Tencent said in its earnings statement.

The company plans to integrate more functions such as games and content apps into Weixin and step up marketing and advertising outside China.

"We will continue to invest heavily in such downstream activities, including e-commerce and advertising, so as to fully capture the revenue opportunities surrounding our platforms," the company said.

It did not provide further details.

Tencent Holdings posted a 36.5 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit from a year ago, meeting analysts' expectations on robust sales of online games. An increase in overseas active paying users drove profit growth, with the "League of Legends" game gaining popularity, the company added.

Overall fourth-quarter revenue rose 53.4 percent from a year earlier to 12.2 billion yuan ($1.96 billion), in line with analysts' estimates of 12.1 billion yuan.

Revenue from Internet-value-added services, which includes online games, was 8.5 billion yuan and contributed 70 percent to total revenue.

Revenue from e-commerce transactions rose 48 percent from the previous quarter to 1.7 billion yuan.

China's business-to-consumer e-commerce market was worth 169 billion yuan in the fourth quarter by transaction value. Alibaba Group's Taobao Mall had 51 percent of the market while Tencent had 4.6 percent of the market.

Shares of Tencent, which is more than 30 percent owned by South African media group Naspers Ltd, closed up 1.4 percent on Wednesday before its results were announced, versus a 1 percent rise for the Hang Seng Index. ($1 = 6.2157 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Melanie Lee in SHANGHAI and Grace Li in HONG KONG; editing by Miral Fahmy)