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Is Jagex in line for its sixth new owner in a decade?

The RuneScape developer has been the subject of numerous acquisitions with the next set to be its highest value purchase yet
Is Jagex in line for its sixth new owner in a decade?

RuneScape developer Jagex is reportedly in-line for acquisition, with parent company Carlyle reportedly auctioning off the British studio.

Reuters reports that the sale is valued at £1 billion ($1.25 billion), and is currently in the early stages. Should the deal be closed, it’s reportedly due to occur towards the end of this year, with the new owner likely to be a private equity firm which could further Jagex’s reputation as a parent company in its own right, buying up several smaller companies to join its existing subsidiaries Gamepires and Pipeworks Studios.

This would mark the sixth new owner for the company since 2012, when the Insight Venture Partners took a majority share. 2016 saw Hongtou take the reins, which was subsequently acquired by Zhongji Holdings (which changed its name to Fukong Interactive Entertainment). This was followed by Macarthur Fortune Holdings in 2020 and, finally, current owner The Carlyle Group in 2021, which purchased Jagex for $530 million. Should Reuter’s reported value prove accurate, it would see them effectively doubling their money.

A new adventure

After its acquisition by Carlyle, Jagex stated that it wanted to expand its portfolio, evolving the RuneScape IP and bringing the title to mobile. CEO Phil Mansell noted in the company’s 2021 financial highlights that Carlyle Group was “hugely supportive” of its long term growth plans, and with RuneScape consistently going from strength to strength over twenty years into its lifecycle, it’s clear that Jagex remains an attractive acquisition target, if one that company after company doesn’t quite know what to do with.

Jagex itself has proven successful, with RuneScape as its flagship title. Sources at the company, speaking to Reuters anonymously, reported that the company’s EBITDA stands at £60 million ($75 million), and is expected to grow by 10% in the coming year.

In November, Jagex announced a new partnership with Titan Publishing to create RuneScape comics and books.