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Saudi Arabia's PIF buys $1bn stake in Sweden video game company

Saudi men play with the Pokemon Go application on their mobiles in the capital Riyadh on July 17, 2016. / AFP / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Saudi men play with the Pokemon Go application on their mobiles in the capital Riyadh on July 17, 2016 [STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia's Savvy Gaming Group (SGG) which is owned by the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) has acquired a $1 billion stake in the Swedish video games and media holdings company, Embracer Group.

The investment will make SGG the second largest shareholder of Embracer Group, after it acquired almost 100 million shares, and represents the country's second venture into the Swedish games industry this year. In January, the SGG bought the e-sports division of the Stockholm-based Modern Times Group for $1.05 billion.

In a press release on the acquisition, the founder and CEO of Embracer Group, Lars Wingefors, said: "Over the past few years, Saudi-based entities have become one of the most significant investors in the global gaming market, and the games market in MENA is one of the world's fastest growing, with $5.7B in 2021 revenues and more active gamers than either the US or Western Europe. The largest country in this market, by far, is Saudi Arabia, and having visited Saudi Arabia, I have seen the gaming community and the opportunities firsthand."

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"Our relationship with Savvy Gaming Group will enable us to set up a regional hub in Saudi Arabia, from which we will be able to make investments across the MENA region, either organically, via partnerships, joint ventures, or via acquisitions of companies led by strong entrepreneurs," he added.

While the CEO of SGG, Brian Ward, said: "The Embracer team has built a truly unique and leading ecosystem of entrepreneurs and creators at a scale which we believe will continue to generate enormous value for the games community in the coming years."

The PIF, which is worth an estimated $600 billion has built up a considerable portfolio of investments in the gaming industry, including a five per cent stake in Japan's iconic Nintendo for $3 billion last month in addition to stakes in Capcom, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two.

In April, Saudi Arabia's Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC), which is owned by the Mohammed Bin Salman Foundation (MiSK), acquired a 96.19 per cent stake in Japanese games developer SNK, increasing its earlier 33.3 per cent stake in 2020.

 OPINION: Accused of 'sports-washing', are the Saudis now 'games-washing'?

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