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China’s Tencent Acquires 12% Stake in Snapchat’s Parent Company

Chinese internet giant Tencent has acquired 12% of the shares of Snapchat parent Snap.

Tencent notified Snap that it recently acquired 145.78 million shares of non-voting common stock on the open market, Snap disclosed in its 10-Q filing Wednesday. Based on Snap’s closing share price Tuesday, Tencent holdings in Snap are worth $2.2 billion.

“We have long been inspired by the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of Tencent and we are grateful to continue our longstanding and productive relationship that began over four years ago,” Snap said in the filing.

The disclosure helped Snap stock mitigate its nosedive after the messaging and media app maker’s disastrous earnings report for the third quarter of 2017.

Snap dramatically missed Wall Street user-growth and revenue expectations for Q3, prompting the stock to plunge as much as 20% in post-market trading Tuesday. CEO Evan Spiegel on the earnings call announced a series of changes, including plans to redesign Snapchat to be easier to use and new monetization options for creators in 2018.

Tencent operates WeChat — China’s largest messaging app, with 963 million users as of mid-2017 — and streaming service Tencent Video. Tencent has previously invested in Snap in private funding rounds in 2012 and 2013.

Snap actually lists Tencent among its competitors, citing the Chinese company alongside Apple, Facebook (including Instagram and WhatsApp), Google and YouTube, and Twitter.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal is another large strategic stakeholder in Snap. In March 2017, NBCU acquired an interest in Snap for $500 million as part of Snap’s initial public offering; that investment was valued at $427 million as of Sept. 30, according to an NBCU regulatory filing. Last month Snap and NBCU announced the formation of a studio joint venture to develop scripted programming for Snapchat, signing their first deal with indie filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass.

Tencent wasn’t required to file SEC reports disclosing its stake in Snap, because Snap’s Class A common stock is non-voting and therefore exempt from those reporting rules. As Snap told investors, “Tencent and Snap are not obligated to disclose changes in Tencent’s ownership of our Class A common stock, so there can be no assurance that you, or we, will be notified of any such changes.”

Note that Tencent and other Class A shareholders don’t have any voting rights in Snap, which is controlled by co-founders Spiegel and CTO Bobby Murphy.

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