According to official newspaper Shanghai Securities News this weekend, Electronic Arts was said to have reached a deal with Chinese MMO provider The9 to purchase a 19% stake in the company for about US $200 million. The newspaper cites unnamed sources and say that the two companies had reached a basic agreement but makes no mention of whether or not the deal has been finalized.
EA spokesman Jeff Brown has told Reuters that "there is no signed agreement with The9," while declining to elaborate further. However, having no signed agreement currently does not mean that the company is not in the process of working toward the outlined deal. Could the report be wrong or is EA playing coy? We'll just have to wait and see.
The9 has the rights to operate World of Warcraft, Guild Wars and Hellgate: London to China. The paper also reported a deal that would allow The9 to run EA's FIFA Online in China. Such an agreement has been rumored since EA named Hubert Larenaudie, with strong ties to The9, as president of EA Asia.
Joystiq interview: Hoyt Ma, The9
[Via WoW Insider]