Deutsche Telekom Acquires 25% Stake in SK Gaming

  • Esports organization SK Gaming raised an investment from Deutsche Telekom. The telecommunications company acquired a 25% stake in SK Gaming.
  • SK Gaming now has four shareholders of 25% each: Deutsche Telekom, 1. FC Köln, Mercedes-Benz, and Alexander T. Müller.
  • Deutsche Telekom has been SK Gaming’s primary sponsor and technology partner since mid-2018.

Today, German esports organization SK Gaming announced it has added the German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom as a new investor. The company now has four shareholders of 25% each, Deutsche Telekom; Alexander T. Müller, CEO and founder of SK Gaming; 1. FC Köln, a German Bundesliga soccer club; and Mercedes-Benz, a German automobile maker. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, although SK Gaming stated that the investors are considered strategic partners rather than financial investors.

SK Gaming, which was founded in 1997, currently fields teams in League of Legends, Smite, Hearthstone, FIFA, and Clash Royale. The organization is also part of the franchised League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and built two intensive training centers, in Berlin and Cologne. Deutsche Telekom has been SK Gaming’s main sponsor and technology partner since mid-2018.

“Our acquisition underlines the importance and value that Deutsche Telekom places on eSports and gaming,” said Hiro Kishi, head of sports sponsoring at Telekom Deutschland, in a release. “Our networks, products and services provide the best possible environment for the esports and gaming community. SK Gaming is the perfect partner with whom we can cooperate to shape the market into the future.”

In September 2016, the esports holding company and parent, ESforce Holding, announced its acquisition of a 67% stake in SK Gaming. In March 2018, the World Esports Association (WESA), in which both SK Gaming and are members, released new regulations.

One of the rules addressed multi-team ownership: “Under the Multi-Team Ownership Prohibition, no team is permitted to be completely or partially owned or controlled by a person or entity that owns or controls another esports team or organization participating at WESA sanctioned events.” WESA’s executive board granted a period of up to 18 months for the ownerships to comply with the new rule.

In January 2019, ESforce Holding announced that it agreed to sell its 67% stake in SK Gaming. In the subsequent transaction, Mercedes Benz and 1. FC Köln each acquired a 25% stake in the organization. SK Gaming CEO Alexander Müller told The Esports Observer that his organization was negotiating with all three outside investors before the January transaction and made the joint decision to implement a two-step investment process as Deutsche Telekom needed more time.

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