Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has become the largest outside investor in Nintendo, owning 8.26% of the popular Japanese gaming company. Through its Savvy Games Group division, the state-owned fund increased its holding of Nintendo shares from 6% in January to over 8% one month later. This investment is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to invest heavily in the gaming market, putting it ahead of Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund but behind Nintendo as the largest shareholder.
The Savvy Games Group has acquired a great deal of gaming companies in recent years, including ESL Gaming and FACEIT for nearly $1.5 billion, and has large stakes in Capcom, Nexon, Activision, and Embracer. The group has a reported budget of $38 billion to invest in various gaming companies across the world.
The investment in Nintendo is part of a larger strategy to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy and reduce the dependence on oil. The PIF has also invested in Chinese gaming giant Tencent through the Savvy Games Group, and has bought more shares in Nintendo to increase its stake to 7.08 percent.
However, the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who chairs the Savvy group, has elicited questions about the investment as a means of reputation washing, given the country's human rights record. Salman has previously been accused of allowing human rights activists to be tortured and has been linked to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Savvy’s long-term investment in Chinese esports giant VSPO will help the startup continue to deliver on its global strategy and accelerate the growth of mobile esports with a particular focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Savvy's aim is to be a fundamental contributor to the games value chain, allowing for more people of all genders, locations, financial situations, and skill levels to take part and advance.
The companies said the deal symbolizes a landmark commercial partnership between China, the world’s biggest esports market, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it implements Vision 2030 to become a leading global hub for gaming and esports. The investment will raise some eyebrows as many consider the money from Saudi Arabia to be tainted by the country’s human rights issues.
0. “Saudi Arabia Becomes Nintendo's Largest Investor” GameRant, 17 Feb. 2023, https://gamerant.com/saudi-arabia-nintendo-largest-investor/
1. “Saudi Arabia buys more Nintendo stock, becomes biggest external shareholder” Yardbarker, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.yardbarker.com/video_games/articles/saudi_arabia_buys_more_nintendo_stock_becomes_biggest_external_shareholder/s1_17144_38480074
2. “Saudi wealth fund increases stakes in EA and Take-Two Interactive” Game Developer, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.gamedeveloper.com/business/saudi-wealth-fund-increases-stakes-in-ea-and-take-two-interactive
3. “Savvy Games invests $265m in Chinese esports startup” BroadcastProME.com, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.broadcastprome.com/news/savvy-games-invests-265m-in-chinese-esports-startup
4. “Savvy Games Group invests $265M in China’s VSPO esports startup” VentureBeat, 16 Feb. 2023, https://venturebeat.com/games/savvy-games-group-invests-265m-in-chinas-vspo-esports-startup/