Embracer Group commits to Asmodee’s future as restructuring program ends

The CEO of Asmodee’s troubled corporate owner Embracer Group has praised the tabletop giant as “one of the absolute most important businesses we have”, as the parent company prepares to end a severe restructuring process which has seen it lay off about 1,400 people.

Asmodee avoided large-scale job losses during the process, with numbers released last month showing its internal headcount fallen by just 82, to 2,500 people, since Embracer began restructuring last summer.

Embracer was primarily a video games-focused business before buying Asmodee in a €2.75bn deal in 2021, as part of a years-long acquisition which also included the buyouts of Middle Earth Enterprises, Dark Horse Comics and a string of other video game studios.

But the tabletop business became Embracer’s biggest earner last year after overtaking its PC and Console Games segment for net sales – and has only gained in importance through the restructure, with Embracer divesting a pair of big-name video game studios since and shuttering several more.

Embracer sold Saber Interactive last month in a $247m deal, and just announced the $460m sale of Borderlands publisher Gearbox Interactive to Take-Two Entertainment – divestments Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors said marked the end of its “structured divestment process”, with the wider restructuring of the company due to finish at the end of this month.

Asmodee’s future as part of Embracer was unclear throughout the process given that several “large divestments” were trailed by the company – with the tabletop group’s strong performance potentially putting it in the shop window as Embracer attempted to pay down a $1.4bn debt pile.

But Wingefors said in this morning’s webcast detailing the Gearbox sale that “Asmodee is one of the absolute most important businesses we have within the group, and I’m very keen to support them”.

He said, “I’m super excited about all the companies and people and IPs and businesses that we have remaining within Embracer… we are so much more than a PC and console business: tabletop, mobile, the licensing business, Lord of the Rings – that creates significant cash flows or stability into the group.”

Wingefors said Embracer had received weekly approaches from companies interested in buying some of the group’s assets, but added, “I’ve been very clear that they are not for sale, because they are a very important part for the group and for the shareholders of the group going forward.

“So that’s why we’re taking the more difficult route to actually divest businesses that have a negative cash flow, which are more difficult transactions, but makes the remaining part of Embracer more cash flow generative with a more clear-focused strategy into the future.”

Wingefors said that despite ending the restructure it was “way too early to start talking about restarting the M&A engines again”, instead saying the company would focus on utilising the assets it has in the group and exploring how they can work together.

He also praised Asmodee’s recent release of trading card game Star Wars: Unlimited, which design studio Fantasy Flight Games revealed had exceeded the sales of any game it had ever released in just its first week.

That success has breeded stock problems, however, causing FFG to activate a distribution plan in case of overperformance, which will see stock released in waves in an attemp to ensure a steady flow of card availability and support the organisation of draft and sealed events.

Asmodee distributes trading card games such as Pokemon, Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh!, as well as publishing board games under 22 subsidiaries including Catan Studio, Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight Games, Lookout Games and Z-Men Games.

Its biggest IPs include Ticket to Ride, Catan, Splendor, 7 Wonders, Azul, Exploding Kittens, Dobble/Spot It! and Star Wars: Legion.

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