Nintendo’s days as a baseball team majority-owner are over.
The video game company said on Monday that it finalised the sale of “a portion” of its stake in First Avenue Entertainment LLLP, which operates the Seattle Mariners professional baseball team, in a deal worth $661 million.
Howard Lincoln, former chairman of Nintendo of America and the most recent CEO of the Mariners, will remain on the board to oversee Nintendo’s remaining 10% stake in the team.
It was previously announced that Nintendo would be selling to “other members of the current ownership group” in April 2016, but now we know exactly how much its portion of the team was worth.
If this is the first you’re hearing that Nintendo owns a significant portion of a Major League Baseball team, you’re probably not alone. Back in 1992, Hiroshi Yamauchi, president of Nintendo at the time, bought a majority of the Mariners with his own money.
The team was at risk of being moved to another region, and since Nintendo of America’s headquarters are located in the Seattle area, Yamauchi decided to pitch in, “in order to show Nintendo’s appreciation to the US for helping Nintendo do business in the country, and to contribute to the local residents and area,” according to a statement released by Nintendo in April.
When Nintendo first announced it was looking to sell off the majority of its stake, it cited the death of former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata as a primary reason. Iwata, who passed away in July 2015, had been overseeing operations of the team, but now that Nintendo is under the direction of Tatsumi Kimishima, it’s likely re-evaluating a number of its investments.
Additionally, it’s no secret that the sales of Nintendo’s video game home console, the Wii U, have been incredibly underwhelming, so the company may be trying to unlock more cash wherever it can.
Nintendo’s next big bet is its forthcoming console, currently codenamed “NX.” The console has yet to be officially unveiled, but it’s rumoured to be a hybrid of a traditional home console, in addition to having some component that allows it to be used on the go.