Saudi Arabia outlines plans to invest US$38bil in esports


'We are harnessing the untapped potential across the esports and games sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further scale the entertainment and esports competition offerings across the kingdom,' said Saudi crown prince and chairman of Savvy, Mohammed Bin Salman. — Saudi Royal Palace / AFP

Saudi Arabia plans to invest 142 billion riyals (US$38bil/RM176bil)) to turn the kingdom into a hub for esports by 2030, part of plans to diversify the economy of the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Savvy Games Group, a unit of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, will spend 50 billion riyals (RM61bil) to acquire and develop a games publisher and 70 billion riyals (RM86bil) to take minority stakes in gaming companies, according to a statement.

It will also spend 20 billion riyals (RM24bil) investing in mature businesses in the gaming industry and a further 2 billion (RM2bil) investing in early stage gaming and esports companies.

"We are harnessing the untapped potential across the esports and games sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further scale the entertainment and esports competition offerings across the kingdom,” said Saudi crown prince and chairman of Savvy, Mohammed Bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia has already started to become an active investor in the egaming industry. Its Public Investment Fund has built up stakes in Activision Blizzard Inc, Electronic Arts Inc and Nintendo Co.

Meanwhile, Savvy has bought a stake in Embracer Group AB and acquired the esports division of Modern Times Group at an enterprise value of US$1.05bil (RM7bil). Savvy’s chief executive officer is Brian Ward, former head of worldwide studios at Activision Blizzard. – Bloomberg

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