Jagex, the owner of the iconic RuneScape online gaming franchise, today revealed its pivotal role in the creation of a new Chinese publicly-listed games company, Zhongji Holding, trading code (SH.600634).
The announcement was made following Zhongji Holding’s successful placement on the Chinese Stock Market and its subsequent 51% purchase of Hongtou, which acquired Jagex as a first step in the process. Zhongji Holding will acquire the remaining 49% of Hongtou within next 12 months.
Zhongji Holding is part of Shanghai Zhongji Enterprise Group, a highly respected and well-established Chinese organisation, and its ownership of Jagex represents the first foray into the gaming sector by the group. Shanghai Zhongji Enterprise Group holds two Chinese public companies, Zhongji Holding and Shandong Hongda Mining (SH.600532).
The initial trading and operational performance of Zhongji Holding will stem from Jagex’s established business and its proven RuneScape franchise. Further to record profits in 2015, which saw Jagex hit new revenue highs of $88.4m, with $36.1m profit after tax, further uplift is expected in 2016. In addition, Jagex will expand with the opening of a new London office to sit alongside its Cambridge HQ.
Zhongji Holding is committing significant resources to its investment in the global games sector and further acquisition activity is anticipated as the Company increases its presence in the space.
Rod Cousens will continue as Chairman, CEO and Member of the Board of Directors of Jagex. Lisa Pan, the controlling shareholder of Pan Capital. International, who led the acquisition, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Jagex and named director of Zhongji Enterprise Group, with responsibility for international and M&A business.
“The process of building up Jagex to bring about an initial acquisition and then taking it forward on a path that sees it taking centre stage in a new public gaming-focused company listed in China, can only be viewed as remarkable. It is only now that the plans are starting to take shape for all to see.” said Rod Cousens, Chairman and CEO, Jagex.
“Zhongji Holding has great ambition in the gaming space and Jagex is at the forefront of its charge. China is the biggest gaming market in the world and Zhongji Holding’s motivation in the sector will prove a compelling proposition for other gaming businesses seeking access to the region. While an integral part of Zhongji Holding’s plans, Jagex’s operations remain unchanged and its business as usual for our games, players and our employees.”
RuneScape, the world’s most popular free-to-play MMORPG, continues to enjoy high growth and Jagex is actively expanding the franchise across multiple titles, devices and via multiple business models and more geographies than ever before.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, RuneScape, is a major success story in gaming.RuneScape has welcomed almost 250 million players to its world and its monthly players number in the multi-millions. This year, RuneScape has introduced NXT, an all-new visual engine and game client, and unveiled The Eastern Lands, an entirely new continent in the game this summer. RuneScape is watched by audiences of millions on social channels and is one of the top ten most-watched games on Twitch†.
RuneScape’s retro incarnation, Old School RuneScape, is also experiencing accelerated user growth through its impact in the eSports sector. The game’s Deadman Tournament series continues to deliver a high-profile eSport audience.
Further franchise extensions include the critically acclaimed Chronicle: RuneScape Legends and RuneScape: Idle Adventures, currently in Early Access and created in partnership with the developers of cult hit Adventure Capitalist. Jagex employs over 320 people at its headquarters in Cambridge, UK.