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Swedish gaming group defends Saudi deal

Tomb Raider Live Little Lion Entertainment
Tomb Raider immersive experience in London. Embracer is buying the iconic games franchise
  • Embracer CEO: ‘Only a handful of players’ can provide capital needed
  • PIF unit Savvy Gaming Group acquires 8% of gaming group
  • Swedish company has more than 12,000 employees in 40 countries

The chief executive of Swedish gaming conglomerate Embracer Group has defended his company’s decision to sell an eight percent stake to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Embracer announced on Thursday that it was issuing 99.9 million shares at a price of 103.47 Swedish krona ($10.19) to Savvy Gaming Group, a unit owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). The deal will help the gaming company raise around $1.05 billion.

“I have been asked over the past few days why we are accepting investment from an entity in a non-democratic country,” said Lars Wingefors, Embracer’s co-founder and CEO, in a statement.

“We need to look ourselves in the mirror, we are a public company and already have many hundreds of institutions from all parts of the world as shareholders,” Wingefors said, adding that there were “only a handful of players in the world” capable of providing the long-term capital that the company requires.

He described the $600 billion PIF as “one of the world’s largest investors, [with] sizeable ownership in many of our larger gaming peers”.

Its Savvy unit, he added, “has ambitions within gaming that are genuine in supporting the global ecosystem for our industry that are consistent with and important to the values and culture of our industry”.

Embracer, which has more than 12,000 employees in some 40 countries, manages a portfolio of video game studios and brands. In early May, it agreed to take over a package of iconic franchises including Tomb Raider.

PIF has been expanding into the gaming sector in recent months. In May it acquired a five percent stake in Nintendo, the Japanese company behind Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon.