Rovio sells animation unit, publishing to start-up led by ex-chief executive

Rovio sold its TV animation studio in Vancouver, the company's book publishing business and certain non-Angry Birds properties.
Rovio sold its TV animation studio in Vancouver, the company's book publishing business and certain non-Angry Birds properties.PHOTO: 2016 ROVIO

ESPOO, FINLAND (BLOOMBERG) - Rovio Entertainment Oy, maker of the Angry Birds mobile games and movie, sold parts of its business to Kaiken Entertainment, a start-up led by former chief executive officer Mikael Hed and other company veterans.

Kaiken purchased Rovio's TV animation studio in Vancouver, the company's book publishing business and certain non-Angry Birds properties, according to a website statement Tuesday. Financial terms weren't given.

The sale was part of a reorganisation at Rovio, which was planning to cut almost 10 per cent of its payroll, up to 35 jobs, as part of a restructuring aimed at reviving growth. The company has struggled to come up with new material to match the success of its best-known game title. Rovio will keep its movie-making studio, which is making the planned Angry Birds film sequel.

Mr Hed, Kaiken's chairman, said his new company is focused on coming up with new entertainment brands. Kaiken will develop content for TV, film, apps and publishing, including young-adult properties it's working on. The company will operate out of Los Angeles, Vancouver and Helsinki, he said.

Last summer Rovio said it would build on the success of its first movie with a sequel to The Angry Birds Movie, according to the Wall Street Journal. The first movie, released by Sony in May, generated almost US$350 million (S$493.8 million) in ticket sales globally, marking the second film adapted from a video game, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

Rovio gets most of its revenue from free-to-play games that target older audiences than animation, said Hed, who stepped down as CEO at the end of 2016. That made it logical to spin off the other businesses to a new company.

"That was the biggest reason we felt for us it was more natural to be forming our own company," Mr Hed said.