Lego plans video games, social network for Chinese children

Toy maker Lego is partnering with China's internet firm Tencent to offer games, video and possibly a social network aimed at children.

The privately-owned company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, said Monday that the deal would combine Lego's ability to create content with Tencent's distribution reach.

"We've seen more and more Chinese children engage with the world digitally, and the partnership will bring them safe and imaginative Lego content," said Jacob Kragh, general manager of Lego China.

Shenzhen-based Tencent is one of China's most powerful internet companies, running the WeChat messaging app as well as online payment platforms and games. Because Chinese authorities have largely shut out Western companies like Google and Facebook, homegrown internet companies like Tencent have been able to grow rapidly in size.

For Lego, the move is part of a reorganization of its business that it began last year, when it announced it was shedding 1,400 jobs, or 8 percent of its workforce.

Lego has for years moved beyond the traditional plastic bricks it is known for, backing films and digital products.

But its sales hit a peak last year and the company is looking for new ways to reach children in more countries.

China has been one of the bright spots for Lego recently, with annual sales up by double digits, and the partnership with Tencent will seek to reinforce its presence in one of the world's biggest and fastest-growing markets.