Esports powerhouse Ninjas in Pyjamas agrees to merge with Chinese team

·1 min read

(Fixes typo in 2nd paragraph)

By Pei Li

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Sweden's Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP), one of the world's best-known esports teams, has merged with a Chinese counterpart to form a new entity which could be listed in the United States by year-end, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

NIP, best known for its powerhouse Counter Strike team, has agreed to merge via equity swap with ESV5, which counts China's videogame streaming site DouYu, anti-virus firm Qihoo 360 and late Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho's son Mario Ho among its investors, the people told Reuters.

The merged entity, if it is listed on NASDAQ, would be the first publicly-traded electronic sports team in the United States, they said, adding that it projects combined revenue of more than 400 million yuan ($61.70 million) for 2021.

ESV5 declined to comment. NIP did not reply immediately to a request for comment.

NIP also has teams in esports games Valorant, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege and FIFA, while eStar Gaming -- the team under ESV5 -- competes in Riot Games' League of Legends and in Honour of Kings, internet giant Tencent's flagship video game which is a smash hit in China.

China is the world's biggest gaming market, and home to some of the world's top video-games companies such as Tencent and NetEase. Esport is rapidly gaining traction with the affluent younger generation.

The country had 388 million esports viewers by the end of 2020, up 21.3% from a year earlier, according to Niko Partners, a video games consultancy.

($1 = 6.4831 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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