By Malathi Nayak
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 13 Japanese online gaming
firm Nexon Co Ltd will begin to aggressively explore
U.S. acquisitions to further a long-standing plan to expand in
Western markets, its CEO-elect Owen Mahoney said.
"We continue to believe that North America is a big, big
opportunity for us," Mahoney said in an interview with Reuters
late on Wednesday ahead of the company's announcement that he
would succeed current Chief Executive Officer Seungwoo Choi in
Mahoney, currently Nexon's chief financial officer, led
mergers and acquisitions and business development at Electronic
Arts Inc for about a decade before joining Nexon, which
is known for free-to-play PC games like combat title
"Dungeon&Fighter" and "MapleStory."
He said Nexon would be open to using its cash balance to
acquire games that would help it build a strong footprint in the
"We want more access to IP and want to be more successful in
the West with the kinds of games that will resonate with
Western tastes," Mahoney said. "But we're also prudent about
what we do, so if we see a good opportunity we'll definitely go
Nexon, which was founded in South Korea in 1994 and is
headquartered in Tokyo, went public on the Tokyo stock exchange
in December 2011, around the same time as "Farmville"
creator Zynga Inc listed on Nasdaq.
The company is considered to be a pioneer of the model of
fast-paced games that are free to play but offer optional
virtual goods or in-game purchases like weapons and energy
While Nexon has delivered numerous PC and mobile game hits
in China and South Korea, it's been unsuccessful so far in
replicating that success in the fast-growing European and U.S.
The company, which said it generated $1.5 billion in revenue
in 2013, has taken minority stakes in North American game
studios in North America like San Mateo, California-based Rumble
Entertainment and Miami-based Shiver Entertainment, to develop
content for the West.
Nexon also has been importing Western content to Asia
through partnerships with developers like Electronic Arts to
publish its "FIFA Online 3" game in Korea.
Mahoney, who joined Nexon in 2010, will take on his new role
starting March 25. Choi, who decided to retire after leading the
company since 2008, will remain in an advisory role as honorary
On Wednesday, Nexon reported higher fourth-quarter revenue
of 34.5 billion yen ($336.47 million), up 12 percent from a year
ago. Nexon also reported a fourth-quarter cash balance of 138.8
It incurred a net loss of 4.44 billion yen, partly due to an
impairment loss from lower-than-expected revenue from a game by
its subsidiary, NDOORS Corp. About 7 percent of its total
fourth-quarter income came from Europe and North America.
Shares in the company fell 5.2 percent to close at 837 yen
on Thursday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.