Home   >   Deals

Modern Times Group selling ESL Gaming for more than $1 billion

To be acquired by Savvy Game Group
Modern Times Group selling ESL Gaming for more than $1 billion
Date Type Companies Involved Size
Jan 24, 2022 acquisition Modern Times Group (MTG) Savvy Games Group $1,050m

Modern Times Group (MTG) has announced the sale of ESL Gaming to Savvy Games Group (SGG) for $1.05 billion, as MTG pivots to "a pure-play mobile gaming company".

The transaction, made all in cash, means that SGG will acquire and merge Faceit with ESL Gaming, the largest independent esports company in the world, to create the ESL Faceit Group. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.

This new, combined business intends to offer gamers the ability to build competitive communities with an end-to-end solution and aims to become a key platform for partners who are looking to broaden their audiences.

Having acquired ESL and Dreamhack in 2015, MTG merged the two into ESL Gaming and has had ownership of $960 million of its total value, or 91.46 per cent. This means the total return on investment will be two and a half times the invested capital.

The sale of shares will be tax-exempt, and net proceeds – including costs and fees relating to the transaction – are expected to be around $875 million.

Aiming for 'pure-play'

"MTG has a long history of identifying successful companies and leveraging talented teams to create shareholder value, including backing them with additional capital," said MTG CEO Maria Redin.

"We embarked on a process to review our options and the transaction announced today is the culmination of that process and represents an exceptional crystallization of value for MTG's shareholders.

"The merger with Faceit will also enable the new company to bring gamers a wide range of new services and products."

MTG intends to become "a pure-play mobile gaming company", and accelerate with force. It also intends to return a minimum of 40 per cent of net proceeds to shareholders, with the proposal of this expected in May 2022.

"Our gaming vertical has already been immensely successful and will now become the core of our business. Our ‘Swedish family’ model attracts gaming entrepreneurs from around the globe, and helps founders share knowledge and learn from each other in MTG’s ecosystem," added Redin.

SGG CEO Brian Ward commented, "ESL has built a very strong track record around developing, broadcasting, and commercialising premium esports ecosystems. Faceit has similarly developed a world-class reputation for providing digital platforms for competitive gamers.

"Savvy has committed to invest heavily in the games and esports industry and to materially strengthen the global games community. And as new owners, we remain fully supportive of ESL’s and Faceit’s respective strategies and leadership, and to driving their businesses forward to support the continued success of competitive gaming."

UK hypercasual publisher Kwalee has recently made its first acquisition since its founding in 2011, acquiring French narrative mobile game developer Tictales for an undisclosed amount.