David Beckham’s Guild Esports plans London IPO

Soccer superstar David Beckham’s video-gaming company is planning an initial public offering as it looks to capitalize on growing interest in esports around the world.

Guild Esports will become the first esports franchise to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange this fall as it builds a team of elite gamers to compete in the online games “Fortnite,” “Rocket League,” “CS:Go” and “FIFA,” the company said Wednesday.

The listing “will provide us with the caché, credibility and capital to fulfill our ambition to become one of the world’s top ten esports franchises within three years,” Guild executive chairman Carleton Curtis, a former Activision Blizzard executive, said in a statement.

Guild — in which Beckham is a founding shareholder — hopes to raise 20 million British pounds (about $25.7 million) by selling about 40 percent of its shares, valuing it at 50 million pounds ($64.4 million), according to Reuters. The company said it will use the proceeds to recruit new players, invest in its brand and expand its activities.

Beckham — the 45-year-old retired midfielder who also co-owns the Inter Miami CF soccer team — will use his “global influence and following” to help Guild build its brand and business, the company said. The firm said it currently has four esports players and expects to have up to 20 on its roster by the end of 2021.

Guild says the global esports market is growing quickly, with some events now capturing a larger audience than the Wimbledon tennis championships and the Tour de France cycling race. Analytics firm Newzoo expects the industry to generate $973.9 million in revenues this year and nearly $1.2 billion in 2021.

Interest in esports has also skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic, which shut people in their homes with little else to do and canceled many traditional sporting events. In May, for instance, viewers spent more than 1.7 billion hours watching the gaming-focused streaming platform Twitch, roughly double last December’s total, according to data firm IDC.

Guild did not disclose a date for its IPO but it said Zeus Capital and Mirabaud Securities will serve as the company’s joint brokers and book runners.