After upping their stake very recently, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia has raised their share of Nintendo’s stock to 8.3%, or about 1/12th of Nintendo’s total stock. This puts the PIF ahead of Japan’s own Government Pension Investment Fund’s holding and behind only Nintendo itself in terms of shares. The PIF also has stakes in Capcom, Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Take-Two, Koei Tecmo, and Nexon. According to consultant Akira Takatoriya, the move is part of the Saudi government’s longterm plans to become less reliant on oil.
The Public Investment Fund has been a source of controversy for some time now. The fund is directly tied to the state and headed by the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. His reign has been marked by human rights violations in a state with a poor track record for equality, and he’s also been connected to the notorious 2018 assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The PIF has invested heavily in foreign sports and entertainment in what critics call “sportswashing,” an attempt to bolster the Saudi government’s public image through its promotion of athletes, celebrities, and, yes, games. While a lot of international business has some amount of shadiness to it, this is a particularly notable case of state-backed power.
The PIF continues to make investments in a broad range of companies and industries, and doesn’t even appear done anytime soon, with some analysts saying it wouldn’t be surprising to see the fund continue to raise its Nintendo stake going forward. We’ll be sure to report on that if it happens.
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