Angry birds firm may lay IPO golden egg for founders

Initial public offering could value maker of mobile game and film at $2 billion

The angry birds at Rovio Entertainment Oy could launch an initial public offering (IPO) as early as next month that could value the maker of the Angry Birds mobile games and movie at about €1.7 billion, said people familiar with the matter.

The company could raise about €340 million from a local market listing, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details are not public. No final decisions have been made and the company could also choose to stay private for longer, they said.

A listing would test investors’ appetite for entertainment software, a group whose shares have declined an average of 18 per cent from their offer prices following IPOs this year.

That's because mobile game makers often struggle to replicate the success of initial blockbusters. King Digital Entertainment Plc, the creator of Candy Crush, was acquired for a 20 per cent discount to its IPO price in 2015 amid revenue declines. And Netmarble Games Corp, the maker of the Lineage and Stone Age mobile games – and South Korea's biggest listing in seven years – has declined 17 per cent since its shares started trading in May.



Carnegie Bank, Danske Bank and Deutsche Bank are among banks advising on a potential listing, the people said. Representatives for Rovio, Carnegie, Danske and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Board director Kaj Hed holds about 69 per cent of Rovio after investing €1 million more than a decade ago into the company co-founded by his nephew Niklas Hed.

Proceeds from an IPO could also help the company fund the Angry Birds Movie 2, planned for 2019. The company's first film in the franchise, released last year, made about $350 million in worldwide box-office sales. Rovio is also focusing on fuelling demand for game titles such as Battle Bay and newer versions of Angry Birds.

Rovio, based in Espoo, Finland, reported revenue growth of 34 per cent for 2016 to €190.3 million and earnings before interest and taxes of about €17.5 million compared with a loss in the previous year. The company, like many game makers, has been searching for new growth after its initial success with the Angry Birds mobile game.

The company sold parts of its business to Kaiken Entertainment, a start-up led by former chief executive Mikael Hed and other company veterans, in March. The sale – which included Rovio's TV animation studio, book publishing business and some non-Angry Birds properties – was part of a reorganisation at the company's animation business aimed at reviving growth. – (Bloomberg)