A professional gaming company co-owned by David Beckham is set to become the first esports business to list on the London Stock Exchange.
Guild Esports will look to raise around £20m by listing 40pc of its shares in a deal being led by UK-based investment firm Zeus Capital.
The company was founded in June and aims to develop an academy that will coach gamers to compete at a professional level. It plans to recruit up to 20 professional gamers by the end of next year.
The esport market has reported enormous growth over the past eight years with the global audience growing from 134 million viewers in 2012 to 443 million last year, according to figures from Statista.
Some esports events have attracted larger audiences than big name sporting events like Wimbledon and the Tour de France. Esports audiences are expected to grow to 646 million viewers by 2023.
No date has been given for the listing but the company said it intends to do so “this autumn”.
The company plans to use the additional funds to scale into various esports over the 2020/21 season, with players set to compete in Rocket League, Fifa, Counter Strike, and Fortnite. Proceeds will also be used to acquire new players and invest in the company’s brand.
Beckham has an undisclosed significant but minority stake in Guild and is expected to remain a shareholder in the London-based company, which said proceeds from the share placing will be used to recruit new players and invest in its brand.
Guild also boasts industry veteran Carleton Curtis as its executive chairman. Mr Curtis was behind the structure of the hugely popular Overwatch and Call of Duty leagues. He has also held roles in both Activision and Red Bull.
“The growing global popularity of esports has enabled several existing franchises to monetise their activities through sponsorship, retail, merchandising, apparel & product licensing, new media & mobile, broadcasting and tournaments,” Mr Curtis said.
“Guild will be the first esports franchise to join the London stock market, which will provide us with the cachet, credibility and capital to fulfil our ambition to become one of the world’s top ten esports franchises within three years.”
The global esports market is valued at around $1.1bn (£870m), according to games research company Newzoo. The research also suggested the industry will grow by 42pc to $1.56bn by 2023.
Speaking at the launch of the company in June, former England star Beckham said that he had seen “first hand” the dedication required to play at a top level.
“I know that determination lives in our esports athletes today and at Guild we have a vision to set a new standard, supporting these players into the future,” he said.