Chinese online game operator The9 Limited is likely to take over a 50 percent stake in MSN China from the state-owned Shanghai Alliance Investment.
The9 will sign a US$100-million contract with Shanghai Alliance Investment, sources told Shanghai Daily today.
Microsoft and Shanghai Alliance Investment set up the 50-50 joint venture MSN China in May, 2005. However, rumors surfaced this month that Alliance Investment plans to sell its stake in the company.
About 11 million people use MSN's instant messaging service in China, making it the second most popular messaging system in the country behind QQ.
The9 is the domestic operator of the World of Warcraft (WoW), the world's most popular online game. It has attracted more than 3.8 million players in China since it was launched nationwide two years ago.
WoW is the major revenue source of The9, whose earnings dropped 40 percent in the second-quarter of this year.
In May, Nasdaq-listed Electronic Arts bought a 15 percent stake in The9.
(Shanghai Daily September 27, 2007)