London-based esports organisation Fnatic announced that it has raised $17m (~£12m) in a new investment round led by the Japanese conglomerate, Marubeni Corporation.

The investment includes a strategic partnership between the two organisations that will support Fnatic’s expansion into the Japanese and Asia-Pacific esports markets.

Fnatic Marubeni
Image credit: Fnatic

RELATED: Japanese government devises plan for esports expansion

As a result of the funding round, Fnatic will relocate its Rainbow Six: Siege team to Japan. According to a release, Fnatic has also expanded its teams globally, including 40 pro gamers across eight game titles, and more than 100 staff in six offices globally.

Marubeni Corporation was founded in 1949 and operates several business groups in Japan ranging from energy and metals to consumer products and aerospace.

Fnatic CEO Sam Mathews said: “We’re so excited to have the strategic know-how of Marubeni leading this funding round.  Marubeni’s knowledge of Japan’s business landscape will be a huge asset to Fnatic as we expand our commitment to APAC.”

The current round also includes a range of ‘international family offices and institutional investors,’ alongside venture debt from Bootstrap. The round comes after Fnatic’s $10m (~£7.54m) funding round in 2020, which was joined by more than 3,500 investors led by venture capital and private equity firm Beringea.

At that time, Fnatic launched a crowdfunding equity campaign through Crowdcube, allowing fans to invest in Fnatic and own a small piece of the organisation.

RELATED: Fnatic enters Middle East with Xcite retail partnership

Fnatic is experiencing a period of significant growth and prosperity. The organisation said that its overall revenues have grown 80 per cent YoY and digital and physical performance products sales have increased 91 per cent YoY in the first quarter of 2021. 

Among the organisation’s recent hires include Julien Dupont as Partner Development Director, Patrick Foster as its first Chief Financial Officer, Georgina Workman as Head of Production, and Oliver Royce as Head of Apparel.

Esports Insider says: Despite being home to many of the world’s top competitive titles, Japan is still a growing market for esports. The Japanese government, hindered by anti-gambling laws, has recently outlined plans to increase esports activity in the region. Japanese companies tend to favour long-term partnerships, so Fnatic is wise to team up with an established conglomerate like Marubeni Corporation.

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