Carlsen cashes in on Play Magnus

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Norway’s World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen hasn’t only been winning at the chess board, but with his investments as well. Now his Play Magnus Group is seeking a listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange that prices the company he founded at nearly NOK 800 million (USD 85 million).

Magnus Carlsen, shown here playing in the 2020 Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour. PHOTO: Chessable

The company evolved from the “Play Magnus” app that was launched in 2014 and allows users to play chess against artificial intelligence that simulates the chess champ himself. The firm built up around it has grown into a technology company through several acquisitions and mergers that led to a stock issue earlier this year. The Play Magnus Group offers various platforms for playing, watching and learning chess, and currently has more than 3 million registered users world wide.

Now it has applied for a listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange’s Merkur Market, in what’s being billed in a press release from Play Magnus Thursday as the biggest investment ever in chess. The goal is to raise more capital for more growth, in a listing backed by “cornerstone investors” that include the American asset manager Luxor Capital, Norway’s DNB Capital Management, TIN Fonder and TD Veen.

“The company has developed enormously from a stand-alone app to become an industry leader with an ecosystem of innovative chess services,” claims Play Magnus Group chairman Anders Brandt, who’s been part of Play Magnus from its beginnings as a co-founder of the app. “Our ambition is to create the world’s best experiences for playing, learning and watching chess.” The company currently includes platforms such as the app and the websites chess24, Chessable, and CoChess. This year the company also launched a professional online chess tournament, the Magnus Carlsen Chess Tour.

Magnus Carlsen has come a long way since this meeting with foreign correspondents in Oslo in 2010, and is proving to be a champion at investments as well as chess. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) has reported that Magnus Carlsen, now age 29, has become a millionaire himself in recent years, both in US dollars and Norwegian kroner. He owns, according to DN, 16 percent of Play Magnus Group. He claimed in Thursday’s press release that the company “has a unique vision and strategy for bringing chess to a wider audience. Our model will help many more chess players and coaches to be able to make a living from chess. The company has just started on this journey, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this adventure.”

The private placement prices the Play Magnus Group at NOK 796 million including the commitments from Luxor Capital, DNB Asset Management, TIN Fonder and TD Veen. That values Carlsen’s own stake, through his Norwegian company Magnuschess as, at more than NOK 127 million.

DN reported last week that Carlsen has taken out his first dividend from his Magnuschess company, in which his father Henrik Carlsen owns 15 percent. The dividend, according to Magnuschess’ annual report, amounted to NOK 20 million. He also owns two homes in Oslo, estimated to be worth NOK 40 million.

Carlsen, meanwhile, keeps winning in chess also, advancing at the Banter Blitz Cup this week by beating Srinath Narayanan of India. A match earlier this month against chess legend Garry Kasparov ended in remis (a tie), a downturn from when Carlsen beat Kasparov when he was just 13 years old in a match that marked his breakthrough in international chess. Carlsen rebounded last week in an online rapid chess tournament with a string of victories.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund