Jagex, UK-based developer of massively multiplayer game RuneScape, have been bought by private equity firm The Carlyle Group. The sale was reported late last week by The Telegraph, and the Carlyle Group confirmed the deal yesterday, stating that they intended to speed up the studio's content creation and launch new games, according to GI.biz.
Now the sale is being disputed in a lawsuit by another private equity firm, Plutos Sama Holdings.
This gets messy quick. Jagex was bought last year by US asset management firm Macarthur Fortune Holding, from Chinese mining company Shanghai Hongtou Network Technology, for around $530 million (roughly £390 million). Macarthur have now sold Jagex to The Carlyle Group for an undisclosed sum expected to be higher than last year's sale.
Plutos Sama Holdings, another private equity firm, has filed a complaint in the US Disctict Court of California against Jagex and Shanghai Hongtou Network Technology (SHNT). The suit alleges that the 2020 sale of Jagex from SHNT to Macarthur was unlawful, and that Plutos Sama has won auctions to purchase a majority stake in SHNT. It also alleges that SHNT majority shareholder Yan Jinggang bribed shareholders to block the sale of the company to Plutos Sama.
There are several other companies involved, a separate lawsuit, and a lot more as laid out in the report by GamesIndustry.biz.
A Jagex spokesperson told GI.biz that, "The allegations are meritless in all respects, and we will deal with the situation accordingly."
RuneScape, meanwhile, seems to go from strength to strength. The 20-year-old MMO launched on Steam last year, continued to break its own membership records as recently as 2019, and achieved new peak concurrent player numbers in 2020 for spin-off Old School RuneScape, which is based on the 2007 version of the game.