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Tencent boosts movie and gaming business with acquisition of cartoon studio Byment

The two companies have been cooperating on movie production since April 2017.

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Chinese social media and gaming giant Tencent (HKG: 0700) is set to acquire Guangzhou-based cartoon maker Byment, Tencent Investment disclosed on a post on its official WeChat account on Sunday, without revealing financial details.

After this deal, Tencent, which invested in the firm’s Series A in April 2017, will take a major stake in this startup, while the two companies will cooperate in developing and monetizing more cartoons.

Byment launched a comic series called Westward in April 2016 on major Chinese online comic platforms, based on the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West, a saga and storyline which is central to the country’s culture and literature. With Tencent’s support, Byment then developed the series into animated cartoons and movies, mostly available to paying subscribers of Tencent Video, the tech conglomerate’s online video platform.

Byment has also produced multiple marketing comics for Tencent to promote CrossFire, a first-person-shooter game operated by the tech giant in China.

China digest

Zou Zhengyu, vice president of Tencent Pictures, said in the post that the “rich resources of Byment can keep enhancing Tencent’s advantage in intellectual properties in the comic sector and help Tencent develop its movie and gaming business”.

After joining Tencent, Byment will increase comic production capacity and enlarge its business, said Liao Ronglv, general manager of Byment, also in the WeChat post.

Before this deal, Tencent invested USD 125 million in Beijing-based Kuaikan World, which runs a comic app that hosts works of various authors and producers, including Byment, and a community for comic fans, KrASIA reported in August 2019.

The tech giant generated RMB 37.3 billion (USD 5.4 billion) from online games in the first quarter of this year,  when most people stayed at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, up 31% year-on-year.

The number of subscribers for Tencent Video increased 26% year-on-year to 112 million in the first quarter of this year.