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

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A person stands in front of a signage of Southeast Asian e-commerce and gaming group Sea Ltd's, at their office in Singapore March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

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SINGAPORE, March 2 (Reuters) - 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 Ltd (SE.N), could be resolved quickly.

Reuters reported last week that Singapore had 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. read more

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

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

Sources, including two Indian government officials, have said 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 wealthy 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% of Sea's mobile-game net sales in 2021.

Sea said on Tuesday that bookings for its digital entertainment business in 2022 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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Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and Fanny Potkin; Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi; Editing by Martin Petty and Kanupriya Kapoor

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