Rovio Entertainment, the company behind the hit game Angry Birds and the successful 3D animated movie based off the game, is planning to float on the Nasdaq Helsinki.
Angry Birds, and the spin off series of mobile games, have been downloaded over 3.7bn times and at one point was the most actively downloaded and played game in the world. So successful that, in 2011, the company received an offer to be acquired by Zynga for $2.3bn. The offer was turned down as rumours circulated that the company was going to go public with an estimated valuation closer to $9bn.
That IPO never came about but hard times did. Angry Birds began to lose momentum, other titles created by Rovio didn’t take off, and the Free to Play alternatives provided by the likes of Candy Crush Saga (by King) and Clash of Clans (by Supercell) took over the charts and play time. Share reductions in revenue and profits led to several rounds of layoffs and other cost saving measures.
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Things have been on the up for Rovio recently. Revenue soared 94% over the last year, and saw particular increases in the second quarter due to the movie and strong performance of its games. The Angry Birds Movie grossed nearly $350m in ticket sales worldwide and the company is planning a sequel for 2019.
In the first half of 2017 sales had almost doubled from a year earlier to €153m euros, while core profit increased to €42m from €11m a year before.For this reason, the company is aiming to raise capital now, to boost growth, strengthen brand recognition and allow it to use shares to make acquisitions.
While the company’s intentions for this float are modes, rumour has it they are looking to raise around €30m, the ambitions remain high.
Rovio CEO Kati Levoranta said:
I am confident in our games-first strategy. The contemplated IPO and listing are an important milestone in developing Rovio into an even stronger games-first entertainment company
The total valuation this would give the company isn't clear, but it's obviously a long way from the kind of numbers touted around Rovio as little as five years ago. As Kati told the Financial Times on Tuesday:
We are not commenting on potential valuation ... What we are saying is that we are planning the IPO and [it] will consist of a secondary share sale as well as a [primary] issue.
The path has been a long one for the company that was initially set up by three students in 2003. They’ve experienced incredible highs and lows, winning their first award for a game they later sold to Sumea Studio, raising angel capital, raising venture capital, the highest highs with Angry Birds dominating world wide mobile game play, and then the crashing lows that followed. This IPO will see them circle back to a period of growth and hopefully their next big ticket game.
Carnegie Investment Bank AB in Finland and Danske Bank A/S in Helsinki Branch are acting as joint coordinators in the planned IPO. Deutsche Bank AG in London and OP Corporate Bank are acting as joint bookrunners.