Game on for Keywords Studios as it acquires Canadian company Snowed In

Dublin-headquartered but London-listed gaming company on acquisition trail

Keywords Studios chief executive Andrew Day pictured in the company’s Dublin HQ. Photograph:  Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Keywords Studios chief executive Andrew Day pictured in the company’s Dublin HQ. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

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Fast-growing Irish video gaming firm Keywords Studios has bought Canadian company Snowed In for CAD$4 million (€2.59 million), in what is its sixth acquisition of the year.

The Sandyford-based company, which agreed a new €75million three-year revolving credit facility in early and recently launched a venture capital arm, said the latest acquisition would expand its engineering service line in Canada.

Founded in 2010 and based in Ottawa, Snowed In offers engineering and co-development services to the video-games industry. The company, whose clients include Ubisoft and Bethesda, has 29 employees. It achieved earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) of CAD$800,000 in its last financial year ending January 31st 2018, from revenue of CAD$2.4 million.

Under the terms of the acquisition Keywords is paying an initial CAD$2.67 million in cash and will issue 37,983 new ordinary shares in Keywords to the Sellers on the first anniversary of the acquisition which will then be subject to orderly market provisions for a further 12 months.

Deferred consideration of up to CAD$200,000 will be payable in cash to the sellers 18 months after the acquisition.

“The addition of Snowed In to the group will add strength and scale to our recently established engineering service line and enable Snowed In to take advantage of the group’s very strong presence in the region to support its growth,” said Keywords chief executive Andrew Day.

Keywords, which is listed on London’s AIM market, has a market value of more than €1 billion. It provides services to 23 of the top 25 most prominent games companies globally, including Tencent, Electronic Arts, Oculus, Supercell, Activision, Microsoft, Sega, Nintendo and Ubisoft.

The company reported a 57 per cent rise in full-year revenues in April. with adjusted earnings (ebitda) up by 57 per cent to €26.3 million, and profits before tax up to €12 million.

In less than a decade, Keywords has grown from being a small studio employing 50 people at a single site in Dublin to one that now has up to 5,000 working across 42 locations in 20 countries. It has also shifted from being a single-service business to one with lines covering integrated art production, engineering, audio services, testing, localisation and player support services across 50 languages and 16 game platforms.

The company has made more than 30 acquisitions since 2014, including 11 in 2017.

The Snowed In deal is the company’s sixth acquisition so far in 2018. Others include a $10 million deal to buy Blindlight, and a $5. 2 million deal for London games agency, Fire Without Smoke.

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