In 2015, game company SNK was acquired by Chinese investors. Now, it seems, the company has new investors in Saudi Arabia.
Eikichi Kawasaki originally founded the company in 1978 as Shin Nihon Kikaku. Famous for its hardware and fighting games, the company became a giant in the Japanese gaming industry. In its heyday, signs at Esaka Station in Osaka—site of its former headquarters—announced the location was the home of SNK.
However, in 2000, the business was acquired by a pachinko company and then found its iconic characters farmed out to pachinko machines. By 2015, a Chinese joint venture had acquired SNK, hoping to turn the company into a multimedia juggernaut. The acquisition made sense as SNK games had long been popular in China.
During the period, a NeoGeo Mini and a massive NeoGeo stick were released, as well as a new entry in the Samurai Shodown series and a CG animated King of Fighters movie. Plus, Terry Bogard came to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while a 1992 Neo Geo game also had “Taiwan” removed.
Now according to South Korean news sites EDaily and Bloter (via tipster Sang), a Saudi Arabian company called Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC) has acquired a stake in SNK. This news has not been confirmed by SNK, and Kotaku has reached out for comment.
EGDC, reports Bloter, is own wholly owned by the MiSK Foundation, which was founded by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. In the past few years, the Crown Prince has become highly controversial because, as NPR reports, he acknowledged responsibility for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as it happened under his watch. According to a United Nations report, Saudi officials killed and dismembered Khashoggi, a critic of the country’s government, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Previously, the majority stake in SNK was owned by Hong Kong-based Zuikaku Co., Limited, which owned 33.16 percent of SNK’s shares. Perfect World, China’s third-largest game company, owns 18.23 percent, while, while yet another Hong Kong entity owns the remaining 6.6 percent.
Electronic Gaming Development Company will purchase 28.8 percent of Zuikaku’s stake, a total of 6.06 million shares. After three months, the Saudi Arabian company has the option to purchase more shares, including Perfect World’s stake.
These reports broke through Korean sources because even though SNK is based in Osaka and the company’s owners are in China, the game maker is listed on the Kosdaq, South Korea’s stock trading exchange.