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PIF-owned Savvy to acquire US gaming firm for $4.9bn

Scopely's portfolio of free-to-play franchises includes Star Trek Fleet Command

Savvy Games Group, a games and esports firm wholly owned by the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), has agreed to buy California-based Scopely, a maker of mobile games, for $4.9 billion.

Scopely has a track record of developing and publishing various games, particularly on mobile platforms. The company’s portfolio of free-to-play franchises includes Star Trek Fleet Command, Stumble Guys, Scrabble GO and Yahtzee With Buddies.

The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, will bring Scopely’s development capabilities, publishing infrastructure and differentiated technology to the Savvy ecosystem, along with a global footprint of game-makers across North America, Europe and Asia, Savvy said in a statement.

Brian Ward, CEO of Savvy Games Group, said: “Scopely is one of the fastest-growing games companies today. Our mission is to invest in – and grow – the global games community by inviting the best minds to join us.”

As an independent operating company under the Savvy umbrella, Scopely will benefit from the Saudi company’s long-term financial backing to deliver on its strategy to grow and deepen existing franchises.

In addition, the acquisition will build on Scopely’s cross-platform approach to extend its live services expertise to new segments such as PC, console and other genres of gameplay.

Scopely co-CEO, Walter Driver, said: “Together, as one, we will be able to further expand the possibilities of play, continuing to develop game experiences for players around the world.”

JP Morgan acted as the lead financial adviser to Savvy on the transaction. Bank of America and Aream worked as financial advisors to Savvy, while Latham and Watkins were legal advisors.

In September last year Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid out a SAR142 billion ($37.8 billion) strategy for Savvy Games Group to make the kingdom “the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030”.

The company plans to invest in four programmes in order to realise that ambition.

The Saudi sovereign fund has also invested in gaming companies such as Nintendo, Nexon, Capcom and Koei Tecmo.