Following similar investment stakes in other game publishers like Activision Blizzard, Capcom, EA, and Take-Two, Saudi Arabia has acquired a 5.01 percent investment stake in Nintendo, according to Bloomberg via a Japan’s Finance Ministry filing.
The Nintendo investment was funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is a government-run sovereign wealth fund. This makes the PIF Nintendo’s fifth-largest shareholder, according to Bloomberg’s data. When asked to comment, Nintendo said that it only learned about the investment stake from news reports. Other than that, the company said it won’t say anymore as the company doesn’t comment on individual stakeholders. The investment front was set up by the country’s controversial figure, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the goal of it is to make Saudi Arabia’s economy less focused on proceeds from oil.
One of Saudi Arabia’s major video game industry investments includes the Prince through his Electronic Gaming Development Company acquiring a 96 percent stake in Japanese developer, SNK. Ownership of the studio has been taken over by the Prince, which is more well known for IPs like Fatal Fury, Metal Slug and King of Fighters.
Other investments include the PIF investing a total of $1 billion USD to acquire a five percent stake in both Capcom and South Korean online games publisher, Nexon. Back in December 2020, the PIF also invested $3 billion USD to acquire stock in western publishers, including EA, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard. In the latter of those publishers the fund invested in, the prince might be getting a return of $95 per share of PIF’s investment in Activision Blizzard if Microsoft’s acquisition of the publisher is successful.
The news of Nintendo being intertwined with Saudi Arabia through the investment is not the best look PR-wise. The reason being is that the fund’s head figure, the crown prince has been accused of numerous problematic activities, including the potential assassination of Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as Saudi Arabia is infamously known for its poor human rights record even as he has been publicly seen to modernize the nation.