Saudi Wealth Fund Takes on Video Game Industry

    • The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has acquired over $3 billion worth of stocks in the video game industry.
    • The investment also represents an evolving Saudi culture that has taken an interest in video games.

Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia has described himself as part of the country’s first generation of gamers. He once mentioned the “Call of Duty” series as a favorite hobby. Now, he’s investing in the industry.

During the fourth quarter of 2020, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia — headed by Prince Mohammed — acquired $3.3 billion worth of stock in three of the biggest video game companies in the world.

  • 14.9 million Activision Blizzard shares worth $1.4 billion
  • 7.4 million Electronic Arts shares worth $1.1 billion 
  • 3.9 million Take-Two Interactive shares worth $826 million

Since the start of the fourth quarter, shares of Activision Blizzard, which publishes “Call of Duty,” are up about 27%. “Madden” publisher Electronic Arts’ shares have climbed nearly 12%, and shares of Take-Two — publisher of “NBA 2K” and “Grand Theft Auto” — have increased by around 18%.

The investment is part of a bigger plan to help alleviate Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil.

In recent years, the Saudi kingdom has poured billions into American companies like Uber, Disney, Carnival, Live Nation, Citigroup, Facebook and more. The value of its fund’s U.S. holdings rose to $12.8 billion in the fourth quarter from $7 billion a quarter prior.

Yasir Al Rumayyan, governor of the sovereign wealth fund, has said that the nation missed out on investing in American stock at a bargain during the 2008 financial crisis, and doesn’t want to miss a similar opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You don’t want to waste a crisis. So for us, definitely we are looking into any opportunities,” Al Rumayyan told finance professionals at a virtual conference last April.

The $400 billion sovereign wealth fund wants to increase the worth of all the assets it manages to over $1 trillion by the end of 2025.