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WestBridge Capital-backed Nazara buys minority stake in InstaSportz
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Mumbai-based mobile games developer Nazara Technologies Ltd has acquired a minority stake for an undisclosed sum in InstaSportz Consultancy Pvt Ltd, a Bengaluru-based virtual reality gaming company, a company statement said.

The acquisition marks Nazara’s entry into the offline gaming space, where it can offer virtual interactive sports entertainment via VR lounges in Tier I and II cities across India and other emerging markets, the statement added.

“With this investment in Instasportz, gamers across various touchpoints can experience virtual reality games at Instazones and can continue the thrill of gaming on their mobile phones once they head back home,” said Manish Agarwal, co-founder and chief executive of Nazara Technologies.

InstaSportz has partnered with multiplex chain Carnival Cinemas to set up VR zones, which involves installing gaming kiosks called Instazones, at their theatres.

“We aim to own the largest network of VR lounges across India and other emerging markets globally. We believe that Nazara, with its presence in 61 countries as on September 30, 2018 across emerging markets, will help us expand our presence through strategic local partnerships,” said Bigith Nambiar, founder, InstaSportz.

Founded in 2016 by Nambiar and K R Rahul, InstaSportz currently has Instazones in malls in cities such as Ludhiana, Calicut, and Bengaluru.

Nazara’s acquisition spree and IPO

Over the years, Nazara has acquired and invested in a number of gaming companies, allowing it to expand its offerings.

Its most recent acquisition took place last month when it picked up a 27.42% minority stake in digital entertainment company Crimzon Code. With the deal, Nazara now provides quizzing games on its platform where users can win money on correctly answering questions.

In January this year, it acquired majority stakes in Gurugram-based e-sports platform NODWIN Gaming and Chennai-based gaming company Nextwave Multimedia.

Last year, it invested in Mumbai-based fantasy sports platform HalaPlay and 3D games developer Moong Labs Technologies.

In 2016, it picked up a 26% stake in London-based mobile gaming studio Mastermind Sports Ltd and invested in London-based mobile games studio TrulySocial.

In April, the company received the go-ahead from stock markets regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India to list on the bourse. When its initial public offering debuts, Nazara will become the first Indian gaming firm to tap the public markets. The IPO will see the firm’s private equity investor WestBridge Capital sell about four-fifths of its holdings, paring down its stake in the company to 3.48% from the existing 22.69%, VCCircle estimates showed.

In November 2016, VCCircle was the first to report the company’s public market listing plans and was seeking a valuation of $500 million from the IPO.

Established in 1999 by Nitish Mittersain, Nazara is engaged in acquiring mobile games across emerging markets such as India, West Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Its projects range from value addition to distribution, while its operations comprise subscription, freemium and e-sports businesses.

Since its inception, Nazara has raised over $100 million from marquee investors such as WestBridge Capital, which owns a majority stake in the company, India Infoline, Sequoia Capital, Emerging Investment Partners, and India Infoline. The most recent investor to back the gaming firm was ace stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, who in December 2017 who put in Rs 180 crore ($27 million) into the firm for an undisclosed stake.

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