A company owned by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has become the largest shareholder in SNK Corporation.
Korean news outlet Bloter reports (translation: Google Translate) that Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC) has obtained a majority share in SNK Corporationon November 26th. Nintendo Life reports this would be 33.3% of shares. EGDC gained over 6 million shares, while China’s Perfect World (the second largest share holder) gained over 94 thousand.
The largest shareholder of EGDC- with 100% of shares and therefore owner- is the Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation. Mohamed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; currently ruled by Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and currently acts as the country’s deputy prime minister.
Bloter report the acquisition was done quietly, but “changes in management rights or business location will be accelerated in the future.” The Crown Prince had reportedly announced his “Vision 2030” strategy previously; intending to improve Saudi Arabia’s industries via his own wealth amassed through oil.
This has previously been seen with Neom; a planned cross-border state-backed city in Saudi Arabia. The city will be in the Tabuk Province, and promises to use smart technology and act as a tourist destination.
However, the project has drawn ire for allegations of Saudi security forces driving out the native Howeitat tribe [1, 2]. Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti told the BBC threats were made against her after she drew the situation to light. Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti- the man who originally posted the videos of the allegations online- was reportedly killed by Saudi security forces.
On July 28th it was announced that the summer season of the League of Legends European Championship would partner with Neom. The above controversy combined with Saudi Arabia’s violations of human rights lead to outcry, and Riot Games then pulled their partnership with Neon just 16 hours after the announcement. They would later form a global deals council and an ethics committee.
UPDATE: The Mohammad bin Salman Charity Foundation has announced (translation: Google Translate) that this was only the first part of a larger acquisition to acquire 51% of SNK Corporation shares. (Thanks GamesIndustry.biz)
The charity, also owned by the Crown Prince, states the investment was made with the agreement they will buy another 17.7% of shares in the future. This would raise the total shares owned by the Crown Prince to 51%; making them the majority shareholder.
“The initial acquisition in this investment was made by the wholly-owned electronic game development company of the corporation, according to the agreements signed with the shareholders selling on the Korea Stock Exchange on which the Japanese company SNK is listed, as the agreement also stipulates that the corporation will buy another 17.7% of SNK’s shares in Future to raise its share of investment in the ownership of the company to 51%.”
Original story continues below:
Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman led an anti-corruption committee in 2017, resulting in the arrest of 11 Saudi princes [1, 2]. Some had accused the Prince of doing so to amass more political power for himself, or to create reform so the law would apply to the royal family.
The Crown Prince had made further shake-ups to Saudi Arabia’s traditions in the past. These include reducing the powers of the nation’s religious police, and establishing an entertainment authority that hosts comedy shows and wrestling.
He has also campaigned for women’s rights; appointing the first woman to the Saudi stock exchange, paving the way for the first concert by a woman in Saudi Arabia, lifting the ban on women drivers, and allowing women over 21 to obtain a passport and travel abroad without permission of a male guardian.
Unsurprisingly, the Crown Prince has been a critic of the Muslim ultra-conservatism (Wahhabism) brought about by the Iranian Revolution of the lat 1970s; and has expressed a desire to make Saudi Arabia “a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.” [1, 2]
Even so, the Crown Prince has been accused of increased arrests for human rights activists, and creating the Tiger Squad– a reported assassination team sent to kill critics of Saudi critics on an international scale. Just prior to lifting the ban on women driving, 17 women’s rights activists were arrested [1, 2].
In October 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by Saudi assassins after he was invited to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey (on the pretext of receiving papers for his wedding). The New York Times reported that that the 15 assassins had close ties to the Crown Prince. Khashoggi was a critic of Wahhabism, but also the Crown Prince.