The logo for the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which is owned by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

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Saudi Crown Prince's Fund Buys $3.3 Billion In Gaming Shares

February 17, 2021

By: Joseph Allen

 
 

An investment fund owned by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman purchased shares in three major gaming studios during Q4 2020. The shares' combined value comes to around $3.3 billion.

Which gaming companies did the Saudi fund buy shares in?

This comes to us via news platform Arab News. According to that platform - which cites a "regulatory filing" - the Public Investment Fund, which is owned by Mohammed bin Salman, purchased shares in EA, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two Interactive last year. The fund bought 15 million Activision shares valued at around $1.39 billion, 7.42 million EA shares worth about $1 billion, and 3.97 million Take-Two shares with a value of about $825.5 million.

 

A shot of F1 2020, developed by EA-owned Codemasters, in which the Saudi Public Investment Fund now technically has shares by proxy
EA's recent acquisitions include F1 2020 developer Codemasters.

This is the second major gaming announcement related to the Public Investment Fund in the last few months. Back in November 2020, the Saudi crown prince purchased a controlling stake in Samurai Shodown and King of Fighters developer SNK. Saudi Arabia has also met with controversy in the gaming space thanks to a cancelled League of Legends esports deal with the country's NEOM smart city project back in July last year. The Public Investment Fund is now worth around $12.77 billion, so it's unlikely that bin Salman is going to ease up on chasing gaming acquisitions anytime soon.

What does this mean for the gaming studios involved?

Unlike SNK, the Public Investment Fund doesn't have a controlling stake in EA, Activision Blizzard, or Take-Two Interactive. The Fund's shares in each company constitute around 2.6 percent, 3.5 percent, and 3.5 percent of the total shares respectively. That's nowhere near enough to have anything approaching a controlling say in policy or development decisions. 

 
 
King of Fighters, developed by SNK, in which Mohammed bin Salman's Public Investment Fund purchased a controlling stake last year
Last year, Mohammed bin Salman's Public Investment Fund purchased a controlling stake in King of Fighters developer SNK.

Given the controversy surrounding the League of Legends-NEOM collaboration and ongoing criticisms of Saudi Arabian policy, the Fund's acquisition of these shares is unlikely to go unnoticed. Now, if you buy a game developed or published by EA, Activision Blizzard, or Take-Two Interactive, you're technically financially supporting Mohammed bin Salman and the Public Investment Fund. For some gamers, that may mean a lot. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.

What do you think of Mohammed bin Salman's fund acquiring these shares? Let us know in the comments below!