Beijing (PingWest)—Tencent, the Chinese social media and entertainment giant, will buy a controlling stake in Iflix, a Southeast Asian streaming firm with operations in 13 countries, according to Variety.
Tencent is using a special purpose company to make the transaction. Deal terms were not immediately available, though the Chinese firm is understood to be paying “several tens of millions of dollars,” Variety reported, citing sources familiar with the agreement.
After the acquisition, Iflix brand name will continue to operate for a period of at least 6-12 months. The majority of Iflix’s current staff are expected to be retained. These include Marc Barnett, who remains CEO for the foreseeable future.
As of April 2020, Iflix, the Malaysia-headquartered streaming firm, had more than 25 million active users on its service, with over 2.5 billion minutes viewed per month.
However, it was losing money heavily. The company reported a 30% increase in after-tax losses to $158 million in the calendar year 2018 and the last public figures showed accumulated losses of the company reached $379 million.
The coronavirus outbreak worsened the situation, and the company has to lay off more than 50 people across its various locations in April.
“The industry is not immune to these unprecedented circumstances. Our decision to reduce the company’s headcount has come after careful consideration and in conjunction with other cost-cutting measures, to enable the company to endure this indefinite and uncertain period,” said the CEO in a statement.
Iflix was set to go public on Sydney’s Australian Stock Exchange, but the pandemic outbreak ruined the plan. With pressure building and the IPO option blocked, Iflix is believed to have sought bids from international media conglomerates and the three major streaming platforms in China: Alibaba’s Youku; the Baidu-backed, NASDAQ-listed iQIYI, and Tencent Video, said Variety.