UPDATE: “Carlyle has acquired Jagex regardless of any claims made by third parties” says Jagex over disputed ownership claim

UPDATE: Plutos Sama Holdings has filed an objection to The Carlyle Group’s acquisition of Jagex, who claim that they are the true owners of the UK developer and publisher.

As reported in GamesIndustry.biz, the complaint has been filed in the US District Court of California against Jagex and Shanghai Hongtou Network, claiming that the 2020 sale of MacArthur was unlawful. The lawsuit claims that it acquired Jagex from Shanghai Hongtou Network in 2018 in an auction, acquiring Jagex for $530 million in a partnership with Platinum Fortune.

However, Plutos Sama later ended the partnership, claiming that Shanghai Hongtou Network was involved in a Chinese lending scheme which involved the misappropriation of billions of dollars of corporate funds. It therefore sold its stake in Platinum Fortune to MacArthur, leading to MacArthur acquiring Jagex.

Plutos Sama has been attempting to acquire Shanghai Hongtou Network, with Jagex included, taking the company to court in the UK – leading to a ruling that Platinum Fortune could not sell or pass on Jagex shares.

Jagex has pushed back on this objection, speaking to GI.biz, a spokesperson stated: “We can confirm Carlyle has acquired Jagex regardless of any claims made by third parties in relation to the deal.”

And in reference to previous claims of ownership by China Minsheng Trust, another investment fund, Jagex told MCV/DEVELOP: “Carlyle is satisfied that historical legal issues have been resolved and is happy to be embarking on this new stage of partnership with Jagex.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Jagex, the developer and publisher behind the popular RuneScape franchise, has been acquired by global investment firm The Carlyle Group. The exact terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

The Cambridge-based Jagex employs over 450 people, and is one of the UK’s most successful game studios, and was listed as one of the 100 most successful game studios in the world in our DEVELOP 100 list. Jagex is best known for its work on the MMORG title RuneScape, which has attracted 300 million player accounts in its 20-year history, which a lifetime revenue of $1 billion.

Despite its age, RunseScape saw a strong performance in 2020, with both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape achieving a new all-time high of online subscribers with more than 1.2 million members signing up.

“I am so proud that Jagex is teaming up with Carlyle, a prestigious investment group that believes in the potential of Jagex, our vision for growth, and will support us in accelerating our multi-year growth strategy” said Phil Mansell, CEO of Jagex. “We will continue to expand our game teams to create and deliver more great content for RuneScape and Old School RuneScape. We will continue to create exciting experiences for our players, grow our global communities, build new games to expand and further explore the RuneScape universe, lend our expertise to publish third-party games from like-minded online game developers, and invest in the incredible tech and talent that powers this all.”

RuneScape is one of the most enduring RPG franchises and has a fantastic and committed player base” added Michael Wand, managing director at Carlyle. “We look forward to drawing on the full resources of Carlyle to support Phil and his team to continue to grow the existing RuneScape franchise as well as launching new, exciting ones. We believe with further investment and innovation, Jagex can build on its position as one of the most exciting video game developers for both existing and new generations of MMORPG players.”  

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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