A consortium of Chinese companies has announced that it is paying $4.4 billion for Playtika, the Israeli social games developer, which was owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment. The group, led by an affiliate of Shanghai Giant Network Technology, one of China’s largest online games companies, said it has entered into a definitive agreement with Caesars to acquire the Herzliya-based Playtika in an all-cash deal.

According to reports, Caesars announced it would sell off the Slotomania developer in order to pay down debt. South Korea’s Netmarble reportedly made an offer for the Israeli gaming company but was outbid by the Chinese consortium.

The consortium includes Giant Investment (HK); Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group; China Minsheng Trust; CDH China HF Holdings Company; and Hony Capital Fund.

“This transaction is a testament to Playtika’s unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world,” said Robert Antokol, Co-Founder and CEO of Playtika.

“We are incredibly excited by the commercial opportunities the Consortium will make available to us, particularly in its ability to provide us access to large and rapidly growing emerging markets. This is an amazing milestone for all Playtikans and we truly value how unique this opportunity is to continue executing our vision with such a strong partner.”

Playtika is credited as the pioneer of free-to-play games on social networks and mobile platforms. It is the creator of Slotomania, House of Fun and Bingo Blitz, which consistently rank among the top-grossing games on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Facebook. Playtika’s games are played daily by more than six million people in 190 countries, in 12 languages and on more than 10 platforms.

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“It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader,” said Caesars Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Mitch Garber.  “Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users.  Robert is a true visionary and Israeli business leader who has created not only a great business, but also the most unique corporate culture I have seen in my career.”

Following the transaction Playtika, which was founded in 2010, will continue to run independently at its headquarters in Herzliya with its existing management team continuing to run day-to-day operations.

Playtika has additional studios and offices in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Japan, Romania, Ukraine and the United States.

“Playtika’s growth has been exceptional, and highlights its outstanding team, excellent corporate culture, cutting-edge big data analytics, and its unique ability to transform and grow games,” said a representative of the consortium, Giant’s founder and Chairman Shi Yuzhu.  “We are looking forward to Playtika continuing to innovate and excel.”

The final transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2016.