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PIF-owned unit buys $265m stake in Chinese gaming company
Saudi Arabia has purchased stakes in Japan's Nintendo and Sweden's Embracer last year

Chinese esports outfit VSPO, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, said Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has bought a stake worth $265 million in the company, as the kingdom continues its push in the gaming market.

Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will take a stake in VSPO through gaming unit Savvy Games Group and become the Chinese company’s single largest equity holder, VSPO said.

Saudi has been expanding its investments in the gaming industry by taking stakes in Japan’s Nintendo Co and Swedish gaming group Embracer last year.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in September last year laid out a SAR142 billion ($37.8 billion) strategy for Savvy Games Group, with the aim of making Saudi “the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030”.

VSPO, which has sought US and Hong Kong listings before, said Savvy’s investment would help it accelerate the growth of mobile esports “with a particular focus” on Saudi. Savvy said the investment would help it to diversify.

“This is a significant transaction for Savvy, and gives us a major foothold in the important Asia region. We are looking forward to diversifying our geographic footprint alongside VSPO,” Savvy CEO Brian Ward said.

In September 2022, Savvy said it planned to invest across four programmes that aim to make the kingdom a global hub for gaming by 2030.

Savvy’s initiatives include SAR70 billion to take several minority stakes in companies that support Savvy’s game development agenda and SAR50 billion to acquire a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner.

Another SAR20 billion will be invested in mature industry partners who bring expertise to Savvy’s portfolio, and SAR2 billion will target industry disruptors to grow early-stage games and esports firms.