Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors has made a statement defending the recent investment in his company by Savvy Gaming Group, a gaming investment company wholly owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- READ MORE: ’90s dance legends Utah Saints on their video game history and creating new music for ‘Final Vendetta’
Last week, it was announced that Savvy Gaming Group would be making an £828million ($1billion) investment in Embracer Group, granting the Saudi company an 8.1 per cent stake in Embracer. As with all investments stemming from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, this move is controversial, to say the least. However, this is not the first investment of its kind with Saudi Arabia having previously invested in Nintendo as well as other high-profile players in the gaming industry.
In a statement made by Wingefors, he attempted to justify the acceptance of this investment among other things: “I have been asked over the past few days why we are accepting investment from an entity in a non-democratic country. To start, 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, including investors from the Middle East and Africa (MENA) and Asia region […]
“We genuinely believe that SGG, a fully commercial entity, 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. SGG is providing a sizeable, truly long-term capital investment to support our strategy and our management so that we may continue the successful growth of our commercial businesses.”
Wingefors also stressed the importance of “freedom, inclusion, humanity and openness” to Embracer Group. The human rights abuses perpetrated by the Saudi Arabian state are well-documented, including the recent high-profile murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi which was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Salman is the Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the owners of Savvy Gaming Group.
In defence of the move, Wingefors states that “there is only a handful of players in the world providing this type of sizeable long-term equity capital.” He goes on to say that without this investment, Embracer Group would have to slow down its activities which can have negative implications for a range of businesses. Essentially, Embracer is accepting the investment because they want the money.
In an attempt to reassure people, Wingefors clarified that Savvy Gaming Group only hold 5% of voting power and 8% of the company’s capital and he and existing management still control the company.