Savvy Gaming Group buys esports company ESL for $1.05 billion. The group is 100 percent owned by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund PIF (Public Investment Fund). The previous owner of the ESL Gaming Group is the Swedish company Modern Times Group. The deal is expected to close by the middle of the year.
The companies involved confirmed the planned acquisition on Monday. As part of the deal, ESL will merge with former rival Faceit, which is also bought by Savvy Gaming Group. The newly merged company will be called ESL FACEIT Group. In total, the Savvy Gaming Group invests $1.5 billion in each of the two esports companies.
ESL CEO Craig Levine commented on the acquisition, “Our merger with Faceit and SGG’s support will give us more knowledge, opportunities and resources.” “Whether you’re playing on your own or watching, for fun or professionally, every aspect will be enhanced through inclusion.”
Dreamhack and Intel Extreme Masters
ESL Gaming GmbH was founded in 2000 by Ralf Reichert in Cologne. Over the past two decades, the company has grown into the most important organizer of e-sports events. Founder Ralph Reichert changed one of them Handelsblatt Report According to the acquisition of the CEO position. The Swedish Modern Times group bought a 74 percent stake in ESL for 78 million euros in 2015.
The ESL range includes many well-known e-sports events, including Dreamhack and Intel Extreme Masters. Popular esports like “League of Legends” and “Counter-Strike: GO” are played.
Money from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF is already in several video game companies, including Take-Two, Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard. Saudi Arabia also buys traditional sports through its sovereign wealth fund. Amnesty International has strongly criticized the takeover of English football club Newcastle United last fall: With these investments, the state is trying to hide human rights abuses and whitewash its reputation, Sasha Deshmukh from Amnesty International commented.
In English-speaking countries, the term “sportswashing” has become a fixture of this strategy, which is a mixture of “sports” and “bleaching”. The acquisition of esports companies shows that traditional sports are no longer the only options.