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Tencent Makes Thailand Investment With Sanook.com

Tencent recently bought 49.92% of Sanook.com, a Thailand portal, for HKD$81.7 million. The 2,496 shares were purchased from Cape Town-based MIH, which owns Sanook.com and also holds 35% of Tencent. Tencent will get two seats on Sanook’s board, and will also have the right to nominate candidates for the company’s executive president.

Sanook was launched in January 2000 and provides information, entertainment, business and community sectors to Thai customers.

Tencent, which listed in 2004 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has been expanding aggressively recently, making deals with Russia’s DST (Digital Sky Technologies) to expand into new markets all over the world, including investments in Facebook and Zynga, two of the fastest growing social network companies in the US. With a market cap of US$33.2 billion, it is one of the largest Internet software companies in the world, and has been under the radar of most US investors. Now though, it appears that the company is beginning to make its moves.

While the Sanook investment is small, it appears that Tencent will play a hands-on role in the management of the Thai company. Tencent started with a community tool, OICQ, which was based on ICQ. Later, it changed the name to QQ. Now, QQ has more than 600 million users in China, and is used on PCs and mobile phones.