Singapore hopes ban on Sea's game can be resolved quickly

Singapore's ministry of trade and industry said on Wednesday it hoped India's ban on popular gaming app Free Fire, owned by technology group Sea, could be resolved quickly.

Last week, Singapore raised concerns with India after it blocked Free Fire as part of a crackdown on 54 apps it believed were sending user data to servers in China.

After the ban, the market value of the New York-listed company dropped by US$16 billion ($21.5 billion) in a single day and investors were worried India could extend it to Sea's e-commerce app Shopee, which recently launched in the country.

Free Fire is owned by Sea, a technology company founded and headquartered in Singapore, the trade ministry said.

"We hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously," the ministry said in response to a Reuters request for comment on the ban and whether Singapore had intervened.

Sea was founded in Singapore in 2009 as gaming publisher Garena and its founders are Chinese-born Singapore citizens.

Sources, including two Indian government officials, have said that Singapore had asked Indian authorities why Free Fire was targeted in a widening crackdown on Chinese apps, even though Sea has its headquarters in the city-state.

India's information technology ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

India is the top market for both Free Fire and one of its premium versions, Free Fire MAX, by number of downloads, according to data from analytics firm SensorTower.

But India made up just 2.6 per cent of Sea's mobile-game net sales last year. Sea said on Tuesday that bookings for its digital entertainment business this year will be close to 2020 levels, partly because of India's ban.

China has expressed concern over India's crackdown, saying it hoped all foreign investors would be treated in a non-discriminatory manner.



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