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Embattled publisher Embracer sells off Saber assets, withdraws from Russia

Buyer founded by Saber boss.

The Embracer Group logo on a red background.
Image credit: Embracer

Troubled video game publisher Embracer has announced the sale of more of its assets - this time, large portions of Saber Interactive, for the price of $247m.

In a financial call this morning, Embracer said the sale means it will cease all operations in Russia, something that will help it "reduce [its] geopolitical risk" - though the buyer, a company named Beacon Interactive, is founded by Saber Interactive co-founder Matthew Karch.

Karch will now lead Saber's studios separately from Embracer, though in a statement said he would remain "a large, long-term shareholder of Embracer" who will continue to partner with the company on "several ongoing and future projects". In the financial call, Embracer boss Lars Wingefors noted Karch would not retain any management or board position at Embracer, however.

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In terms of actual studios, today's announcement will see Embracer sell off all Saber Interactive-branded studios, plus New World Interactive, Nimble Giant Entertainment, 3D Realms, Slipgate Ironworks, Mad Head Games, Fractured Byte and Sandbox Strategies. Several of these studios announced layoffs in recent months.

Embracer will retain Aspyr, TripWire, Beamdog, Tuxedo Labs, Demiurge, Shiver, Snapshot Games and 34 Big Things. It will also continue to work with 4A Games and Zen Studios for now, though Saber has the right to acquire them in future and indicated it has plans to.

Upcoming games include four upcoming "AAA" games, including the next from Metro creator 4A Games, several "AA" games from Asmodee and 34 Big Things, Killing Floor 3, plus upcoming titles and the back catalogue of Zen Studios, Aspyr and Tripwire.

The sale will reduce Embracer's debt by 2.1bn Swedish kroner, or around £160m.

After a huge acquisition spree, Embracer has subsequently shed thousands of staff and numerous development studios over the past year as it struggles to balance the books - it says, after a major $2bn investment fell through.

Embracer has since laid off eight percent of its workforce - a total of 1387 employees - and shut a number of its high-profile studios, including Free Radical, which was working on now-cancelled TimeSplitters game, and Saints Row developer Volition.

Last month, it was reported that a deal that would see Embracer sell off Borderlands maker Gearbox was in the "late stages" of finalisation.

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