Friday marked the latest effort by the Gulf state to reduce its dependency on oil, as the Public Investment fund of Saudi Arabia overtook other investors to become Nintendo Co.’s most significant foreign shareholder. According to a document, the sovereign wealth fund has increased its ownership of the Kyoto-based games company from slightly over 6% at the beginning of the year to 8.3% today. According to statistics from Bloomberg, PIF now ranks behind only Nintendo’s ownership and Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund.
Saudi Arabia is seriously trying to break into the video game and esports industries under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The PIF organisation most famously created Savvy Gaming Group, which had a $38 billion budget and experienced industry professionals in control. Last week, Savvy announced its first entry into the Chinese gaming market by investing $260 million in a Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed competitive gaming organiser.
According to the document, the most recent Nintendo share acquisition was undertaken for financial motives. PIF did not immediately react to a request for comment, and a Nintendo spokeswoman stated that the firm does not comment on particular shareholders.
Saudi Arabia purchased Nintendo as a part of a long-term project.
“It’s tough to bet against PIF due to its size in the market,” UBS analyst Kenji Fukuyama said. “The fund may underpin Nintendo shares if it continues to increase its stake.” Together with Nexon Co. and the creators of Street Fighter, Capcom Co., Nintendo was PIF’s third investment in a Japanese video game business that met the public disclosure criteria of 5% in 2022. Activision Blizzard Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., and Koei Tecmo Holdings Co. are now part of its expanding portfolio of gaming and entertainment companies, according to data collated by Bloomberg.
Together with Nexon Co. and Street Fighter developer Capcom Co. in 2022, Nintendo represented PIF’s third investment in a Japanese gaming business that met the public disclosure criterion of 5%. According to data gathered by Bloomberg, its expanding portfolio of gaming and entertainment companies currently includes Activision Blizzard Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., and Koei Tecmo Holdings Co.
“The Nintendo purchase, as well as investments in game companies around the world, is part of Saudi Arabia’s long-term project to become less reliant on oil,“ said Akira Takatoriya, a consultant who works with Japanese companies exporting pop culture content to the Middle East.
MBS was behind PIF’s $45 billion investment in tech investor SoftBank.
The Saudi state’s 2030 ambitions include establishing strategic economic alliances and bringing cutting-edge technology, serving as a framework for the wealth fund’s investments. Technologies that the PIF has targeted include extensive data analysis, entertainment content, and renewable energy. PIF is funding the development of Neom, a futuristic metropolis in northwest Saudi Arabia that intends to sell as the first gaming centre in the area. According to marketing materials, it will hold a campus that will entice companies, developers, and artists to work together on video games.
MBS is trying to mend fences with Washington after the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives in 2018. This action catalysed a multi-year campaign to gain access to the most prominent startups in the world. MBS was behind PIF’s $45 billion investment in tech investor SoftBank Group Corp.’s first Vision Fund.
According to Tokyo-based industry researcher Serkan Toto, “I think PIF is not even done and wouldn’t be surprised if it continues to increase its stake in Nintendo going forward.”