HELSINKI (Reuters) – “Angry Birds” maker Rovio Entertainment Ltd is moving ahead with a long-awaited initial public offering to help fund new games and deals in a consolidating industry, it said on Tuesday.
The Finnish company said it would raise around 30 million euros ($36 million) by selling new shares, while existing investors – which include the uncle of the company’s co-founder as well as venture capital firms Accel Partners and Atomico – would also sell an undisclosed stake in the business.
Rovio, whose games had been downloaded 3.7 billion times by June, declined to put an estimated value on the company, which some media reports have said could be as high as $2 billion.
Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, in which players use a slingshot to attack pigs that steal birds’ eggs, as the company cashed in on its popularity by licensing the brand for use on toys and clothing.
In 2011, it said a flotation was a mid-term target, but there was little progress as business quickly declined amid the rise of rival games such as Supercell’s “Clash of Clans” and King’s “Candy Crush Saga”.
Rovio was slow to respond to a shift to freely available games that make revenue from in-game purchases and advertising. In 2015, it made an operating loss and cut third of staff.
But the 2016 release of 3D movie “Angry Birds”, together with new games, have revived the brand and helped sales recover.
In the first half of this year, sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million a year before.
The company said it expected sales and profits to increase significantly in 2017 as a whole.
Technology analysts have said Rovio is too dependent on the “Angry Birds” brand and should create new intellectual property to help it grow.
Some are also skeptical of talk of a $2 billion valuation.
“Valuations … have shot up in past few years. So it’s a tempting time for the owners to make an exit,” said analyst Atte Riikola from Helsinki-based equity research firm Inderes. “But compared with historic results … that sounds really high.”
Rovio CEO Kati Levoranta said on Tuesday the company was working on several new game ideas, while also planning a sequel to the movie, scheduled for 2019.
Its main game titles at the moment include “Angry Birds 2,” “Angry Birds Blast”, “Angry Birds Friends” and a new multiplayer game “Battle Bay.”
Rovio is also looking at consolidation opportunities.
“The gaming industry is very fragmented … we strongly believe that consolidation will take place going forward,” Levoranta told a news conference. “We have a huge potential to act as a consolidator, a kind of platform to partners”
Last year, China’s Tencent Holdings bought a majority stake in Finland’s other prominent games maker, Supercell, for $7.2 billion.
Rovio is 69 percent owned by Trema International, a firm owned by Kaj Hed, the uncle of company co-founder Niklas Hed.
The company gave no details on how many shares the existing shareholders would sell, but Chairman Mika Ihamuotila said he understood Trema would remain as a long-term investor.
It also did not give a timeframe for the planned listing on the Helsinki stock exchange
Carnegie and Danske are joint global coordinators for the IPO, while Deutsche Bank and OP are joint bookrunners.
Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Mark Potter