Investment

Financiers, their family offices, and esports

The fast-growing world of esports gaming is attracting more family office investors as a new deal underlines. 

British finance billionaires Michael Spencer and Alan Howard through their family offices have invested in London-based esports gaming group, Excel Esports. 

Spencer’s investment group IPGL and Howard’s unnamed family office, believed to be based in an offshore jurisdiction, have participated in an unspecified funding round for Excel worth €20 million. 

The deal was led by JRJ Group, a London private equity fund founded by Jeremy Issacs, a well-known UK financier who used to head of Lehmann Brothers in Europe. JRJ acquired a majority stake in Excel in 2018, which at the time invested alongside TOMS Capital, the family office of hedge fund manager, Noam Gottesman

According to Excel, its revenues tripled in 2020 on the back of participating in the highly lucrative League of Legends European Championship. Excel was started by brothers Kieran and Joel Holmes-Darby in 2014, and has since picked up lucrative sponsorship deals from BT and Sony.

Esports, which globally is witnessing revenues grow by around 50% annually for some years now, has been attracting the family office sector for a number of years. German-based G2 Esports, the biggest esports group in Europe, is backed by Joe Tsai, the Taiwanese born billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba. 

Tsai invested $10 million in the group in late 2019 through his sports investment group J Tsai Sports, which is linked to Blue Pool Capital, Tsai’s Hong Kong-based family office. Also backing G2 Esports is the family office of US hedge fund manager Eric Mindich, Everblue Management, and the family office of the Ohio-based Manel family, Parkwood. 

A number of esports groups have gone on to make their founders and investors serious money like Skillz, which listed in NASDAQ, and Betty Labs, which was acquired by Spotify. 

 

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