Square Enix Has Several Buyers Interested in M&A, Says Report; Company Responds It Has No Intention to Sell


[ORIGINAL STORY] Historical Japanese game publisher Square Enix has recently had several buyers interested in M&A, according to a new report issued by CTFN, a team of journalists and analysts who specialize in breaking and analyzing M&A stories.

The sources are two bankers familiar with the matter, though they remain unnamed, of course. It is also unclear whether the interest is in Square Enix as a whole or just its digital entertainment division, which accounted for about 72% of sales in the last fiscal year.

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Following the rumor, the company's stock went up by 12% today. Square Enix's market capitalization is currently $6.87 billion, though it was considerably higher just a couple of months ago ($8.15 billion on February 9th, 2021).

CTFN did not name any potential buyer, either, but we can guess. Sony would be the most obvious choice, given its close relationship with Square Enix. When Square was in trouble back in 2001, after the movie Final Fantasy: Spirits Within flopped at the box office, Sony helped the company by purchasing a considerable stake, providing some much-needed capital injection. Eventually, though, Sony sold all of its shares a few years ago.

Beyond that, Square Enix often inks deals with Sony to release games on PlayStation consoles well ahead of any other platforms. For instance, there's still no official word of the Final Fantasy VII Remake coming to Xbox, Nintendo, or PC for that matter, and Forspoken was also confirmed as a PlayStation 5 console exclusive.

Microsoft is another likely suitor. They have already proven they're willing to spend that much on a game company with the recent acquisition of Zenimax's Bethesda and Head of Gaming Phil Spencer did not hide his interest in Asian developers. Additionally, Microsoft has a much bigger war chest than Sony when it comes to its cash and short-term investments balance sheet.

There's a third option that we can think of, though, and it's Tencent. The Chinese corporation has made huge investments across the board in the games industry and now owns stakes in literally dozens of developers, big and small. Moreover, the company has been rumored to be raising billions to finalize a major acquisition; in fact, it raised $8.3 billion in a loan this February, and $4.2 billion in a bond deal confirmed just today.

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As a reminder, Square Enix is a treasure trove of IPs and studios. Beyond Final Fantasy, the company owns franchises like Bravely, Deus Ex, Dragon Quest, Drakengard, Dungeon Siege, Fear Effect, Front Mission, Just Cause, Kingdom Hearts, Legacy of Kain, Life is Strange, Mana, Parasite Eve, SaGa, Star Ocean, Thief, Tomb Raider, and developers like Luminous Productions, Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montréal, Eidos Shanghai, Tokyo RPG Factory and Taito Corporation, among others.

[UPDATE] Square Enix issued a brief comment to deny the report.

This report is not based on any announcement by SQUARE ENIX HOLDINGS CO., LTD.
We do not consider selling off the company or any part of its businesses, nor have we received any offer from any third party to acquire the company or any part of its businesses.

Thanks for the tip, Suekovitsch!