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ZTgame a virtual lock overseas
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ZTgame, China's third-largest online-gaming company, has secured $100 million from venture capitalists, taking it one step closer to offering shares to overseas investors by the end of the year, sources said.

"Several venture capitalists and individual investors bought into this company through private placements in August," said Bao Fan, chief executive officer of China Renaissance. "ZTgame has filed its listing application to US securities regulatory authorities and could hold the share offering by the year's end."

Bao declined to reveal further details of the deal. His company, a start-up investment bank, was ZTgame's fundraising advisor. Public relations officials from ZTgame also declined to comment on the deal.

Shanghai-based ZTgame launched Zheng Tu, its first online game, last April and quickly became the third-largest such company in the country, behind Shanda and NetEase, both of which are listed on the NASDAQ.

The company raked in 779 million yuan in the first half of the year, accounting for 14.9 percent of China's online gaming market, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based IT consultancy.

"ZTgame needs the money to stay on a fast track," said Liu Xin, an analyst with Analysys International. "It may acquire game development teams or obtain game authorization from overseas gaming companies, as its competitors did."

China's online gaming sector has been growing rapidly over the years, spawning a swarm of local operators like Shanda and NetEase. These companies started by operating games developed by overseas companies and paying license fees. But in recent years, the Chinese companies have stepped up efforts to build their own research and development capacities, sometimes through acquisitions.

Shanda, the largest gaming operator in China, bought Aurora Technology Development Co Ltd, a smaller counterpart in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, this July. The company said later it had earmarked 2 billion yuan for further acquisitions.

ZTgame is anticipating all of its revenue will come from Zheng Tu, which once had more than 1 million players online at a peak time, according to the company.

(China Daily September 21, 2007)

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