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Clash of Clans maker Supercell leaps to Tencent in $8.6 billion deal

Japanese telecom giant SoftBank, which previously owned a majority stake in Supercell, will walk from the mobile games startup.

#2 Clash of Clans
Build your village, train your troops and battle with thousands of others in Clash of Clans, the No. 2 top-grossing iPhone app of all time.

The lovable barbarian, the sly archer and the rest of the gang from Clash of Clans just found a new home.

Chinese internet giant Tencent will acquire a majority stake in Finnish game maker Supercell, best known for the blockbuster mobile game, for $8.6 billion, the companies said Tuesday.

Tencent will own an 84 percent stake, a majority of which will be purchased from Japanese telecom giant SoftBank, which bought a majority share in 2013. The gaming firm will control the rest of the shares and SoftBank will part ways with the company. The deal values the company at $10.2 billion.

The move to Tencent represents an opportunity for Supercell to tap into a new market with the support of a huge Chinese player. Clash of Clans remains a top-grossing app in Apple's App Store even as the company attempts to replicate the success with its follow-up titles.

"This new partnership offers us exciting growth opportunities in China, where we will be able to reach hundreds of millions of new gamers via Tencent's channels," Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell, said in a statement.

Supercell's hit games Clash of Clans, Hay Day, Boom Beach and Clash Royale have all made it to the global-grossing top 10 list. The team attributes its success in part to their organizational structure. Small teams, or "cells," focus on each of the games, an arrangement Tencent isn't going to mess with.

"We are excited that Supercell is joining our global network of game partners, and will preserve their independence and enhance their advantages, thus bringing even more exciting gaming experiences to players around the world," said Martin Lau, president of Tencent, in a statement.

The acquisition is yet another in a string of high-profile partnerships. Tencent also owns Riot Games and invests in many other gaming companies like Epic Games and Activision Blizzard.

Supercell will retain its helm in Helsinki, Finland, while continuing to expand its reach.

"It's difficult to get into the Chinese market without collaboration from Tencent and [Supercell] will benefit tremendously," said Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research, a data provider for the global games market. "It's China, the sky is the limit, this is where they built the Angry Birds theme park, who knows, maybe there will be a Clash of Clans theme park."

For SoftBank, the deal represents a move away from its push to invest in different startups, a strategy embraced by Nikesh Arora, former Google executive and SoftBank president. Arora on Tuesday stepped down from the Japanese company amid pressure from shareholders.

Arora remains cordial about the decision and expressed his thoughts on Twitter, making reference to SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son.

The deal is expected to close by the third quarter of this year.

Update, 2:13 p.m. PT: Added a quote from the CEO of SuperData Research.