Keywords Studios said chief executive Andrew Day would be stepping down from the business immediately, following a leave of absence for health reasons.
In March, Mr Day said he was temporarily stepping back from the business, with chief financial officer Jon Hauck and chief operating officer Sonia Sedler taking over as joint-interim chief executives.
However, the company announced on Tuesday that Mr Day had decided to bring forward a longer-term retirement plan and leave the company with immediate effect.
“Whilst my recent health scare has brought about a reassessment of my priorities and brought forward a retirement that I was otherwise looking forward to in the coming few years, I am pleased to be leaving the group in such a strong position to continue to deliver on its proven strategy,” Mr Day (57) said. “I am confident that the group will continue its march of delivering high quality growth both organically and from acquisitions of the type that has taken us from IPO in 2013 with a market capitalisation £50 million to [about] £2 billion today.”
He will remain available to the board for six months in an advisory capacity as they search for a successor. Mr Hauck and Ms Sedler will continue as interim chief executives.
Mr Hauck is said to have been “heavily involved” in driving the company’s strategic development in recent years, while Ms Sedler has helped drive organic growth.
The loss of Mr Day will still come as a blow to the group, which has seen significant expansion in recent years. He joined Keywords in 2009, and has built the company from a single-site operation to more than 69 studios in 22 countries and employing more than 9,000 people.
He led the company through its initial public offering in 2013 on the London Stock Exchange in 2013 where its market value has grown from €50 million to more than £2 billion. Since its IPO, it has been actively acquiring other businesses to expand its skill set and diversify its revenue.
"Whilst we are sad to see Andrew go, we fully support his decision to bring his retirement plans forward and wish him a very happy retirement," said Ross Graham, chairman of Keywords Studios. "Over the 12 years since taking over the reins from the founders in 2009, Andrew has led the building of Keywords into the 'go to' global video games services platform it is today and it is a tribute to his leadership that he leaves the group in great shape with a strong and broad leadership team that is well equipped to both drive the company's strategy forward and enhance its operational performance."
Keywords also updated the market on its revenue, saying it had made a good start to the year. Total revenue growth was 36 per cent for the first four months.
The group, which acquired Tantalus Media and Climax Studios earlier in the year, said it was reviewing further acquisitions.
“Under Jon’s and Sonia’s direction, the group has continued to perform strongly whilst also continuing to add scale and reach through the recent acquisitions of the high quality businesses, Tantalus Media and Climax Studios,” Mr Graham said.
“The group is well placed, with a leading position in the buoyant video games market and a strong balance sheet, to continue to build upon its strong platform both organically and through selective acquisitions from a healthy pipeline of opportunities.”