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Korean firm takes 23percent stake in Ini3 Digital

SoftBank Venture Korea Corp (SBVK) has taken a 23-per-cent stake in Ini3 Digital, a Thai online-game service provider, with the goal of expanding both of their businesses in Southeast Asia.

Daniel Kang, chief operation officer and partner at SBVK, said the company's investment in Ini3 Digital was its first in Thailand. This is its second investment in Southeast Asia, after Indonesian e-commerce firm Tokopedia last year.

"We are looking for opportunities to invest in. We only focus on ICT [information and communications technology] including Internet, mobile Internet, telecommunication, and e-commerce," Kang said.

"We are just starting in the Southeast Asia market since we are looking for growth outside Korea. We see growth opportunities in Southeast Asia, especially mobile Internet and the overall economy. We need local partners who understand these markets well, so our key strategy is to work with local partners through investment."

He added that the game industry was growing dynamically. The industry is moving from personal-computer-based online games to mobile platforms, for which there are a lot opportunities in Southeast Asia, and Ini3 Digital is a good partner to help SBVK expand into this growing market.

SBVK is a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank Korea, a holding company that in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank in Japan.

Established in 2004, Ini3 Digital has provided 24 games across platforms, including 21 online games and three mobile games. It plans to launch seven new mobile games and four online games this year.

Ini3 Digital chief executive officer Pattera Apithanakoon said her company aimed to become a regional player, expanding its business to cover the Southeast Asia market. Partnering with SBVK is meant to help the company achieve that goal by strengthening both companies' financial and game portfolios.

"SBVK's strong portfolio will help us access [high] potential game content. Together with our 20 years' experience in providing online-game services, we will go regional together. This year we aim to increase our profit by 20 per cent from last year," Pattera said.

She said the company aimed to double its market share in the game industry from 8 per cent last year to 15 per cent this year. The total game industry in Thailand was worth Bt4 billion in 2013 and is expected to rise to Bt5 billion this year.

"This year, the game industry's growth is being driven by the mobile platform. We also plan to launch games for the mobile platform within the next three months," Pattera said.

In its quest to become a regional player, Ini3 Digital has already expanded into Vietnam through a 49-per-cent investment in a mobile game publisher in that market.

"Vietnam is the largest game market in Southeast Asia, followed by Thailand and Indonesia. We are focusing on strengthening our business in Vietnam this year. Then we will expand to the next market by late this year," Pattera said.


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