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Chairman leads bid for game developer Giant Interactive

(Reuters) - Chinese online game developer Giant Interactive Group Inc received a go-private offer from Chairman Yuzhu Shi and an affiliate of Baring Private Equity Asia, valuing the company at about $2.8 billion.

The offer of $11.75 per American Depositary Share represents a 16 percent premium to the stock's closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

Giant Interactive's shares were up 13.5 percent at $11.50 before the bell on Monday. Shares of the company have risen 87 percent this year as the popularity of online gaming soars in China.

Chinese online gaming generated revenue of about $3.3 billion in the second quarter, up about 27 percent from a year earlier, according to research firm iResearch. (http://r.reuters.com/dyv84v)

Giant Interactive, known for its ZT Online and XT Online series, reported a 9 percent rise in revenue to about $96 million for the third quarter.

The company's games allow users to play online while interacting with each other, a feature commonly called "massively multiplayer online games" (MMOG).

Giant Interactive, whose main competitors are Changyou.com, Perfect World and NetEase, said the bidding group already owned about 47.2 percent of its shares.

The bidders expect to finance the deal with a combination of debt and equity capital, the company said.

(Reporting by Soham Chatterjee; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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