Saudi Arabia's PIF launches gaming company Savvy Gaming Group

The new firm has purchased ESL Gaming, one of the largest independent e-sport companies, in an all-cash transaction of $1.05bn

Gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia is estimated to reach $6.8 billion by 2030, a report by Boston Consulting Group shows. EPA

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has launched a new gaming company to strengthen its position in the fast-growing gaming and eSports industry.

Called Savvy Gaming Group, the new entity aims to become the “leading gaming and eSports group domestically and internationally, and will work to further develop an integrated ecosystem for the sector”, the Public Investment Fund said on Wednesday.

The launch of SGG is in line with the PIF’s 2021-2025 strategy to drive innovation in strategic sectors including entertainment, leisure and sports.

The strategy intends to create “opportunities for the growth and diversification of Saudi Arabia’s economy, to help achieve the objectives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030”, the Saudi fund said.

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We are convinced that Savvy is the right owner, who will continue to invest in the development of ESL Faceit Group to nurture and entertain players and fans globally
Maria Redin, chief executive of MTG

Under the strategy to strengthen its gaming portfolio and expand its global footprint in the industry, SGG has purchased ESL Gaming – one of the largest independent e-sport companies – from Stockholm-based Modern Times Group in an all-cash transaction of $1.05 billion.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

SGG has also acquired e-sports platform Faceit and will be merging the two companies to create a new global entity for competitive gaming – ESL Faceit Group, which will play a key role in meeting SGG’s objectives, PIF said.

“Savvy has committed to invest heavily in the games and eSports industry and to materially strengthen the global games community,” said Brian Ward, SGG’s chief executive.

“And as new owners, we remain fully supportive of ESL’s and Faceit’s respective strategies and leadership, and to driving their businesses forward to support the continued success of competitive gaming,” he added.

The combined business will offer an end-to-end solution that enables games to build competitive gaming communities and ecosystems with a leading digital platform for players to play and connect. It will also be a key destination for partners looking to reach new audiences.

“Our model attracts gaming entrepreneurs from around the globe, and helps founders share knowledge and learn from each other … we will continue to support, nurture and grow our communities and be the best port of call for entrepreneurs who want to accelerate their growth,” Maria Redin, chief executive of MTG, said.

“We are convinced that Savvy is the right owner, who will continue to invest in the development of ESL Faceit Group to nurture and entertain players and fans globally.”

Gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, is estimated to reach $6.8bn by 2030, a recent report by Boston Consulting Group said.

Along with eSports, the sector – a growing powerhouse with about three billion active participants globally – is poised to generate substantial revenue, high-quality jobs and various reputational benefits in the kingdom, where consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 22 per cent through 2030 from $959 million in 2020, the consultancy said.

Updated: January 26, 2022, 6:04 PM