Angry Birds maker Rovio hopes to soar with IPO plans

The maker of hit mobile phone game Angry Birds is planning an initial public offering to raise around 30 million euros ($36 million) and potentially use its shares to make acquisitions.
A cinema still of the Angry Birds movie which was released last year. The film revived the brand and gave a new boost to game sales. Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original Angry Birds game, in which players use a slingshot to at
A cinema still of the Angry Birds movie which was released last year. The film revived the brand and gave a new boost to game sales. 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.PHOTO: ROVIO

It aims to raise about $50m for acquisitions, amid increase in sales and profits this year

HELSINKI • The maker of hit mobile phone game Angry Birds is planning an initial public offering to raise around €30 million (S$48.3 million) and potentially use its shares to make acquisitions.

Finland's Rovio Entertainment said yesterday that existing shareholders, who include the uncle of the company's co-founder as well as venture capital firms Accel Partners and Atomico, would also sell some shares, though it gave no further details.

It declined as well to put an estimated value on the company, which some traders have said could be as high as US$2 billion (S$2.7 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.

Its business slowed in the following years amid new challengers, but a 3D movie release last year revived the brand and gave a new boost to game sales.

In the first half of this year, Rovio's sales almost doubled from a year earlier to €153 million, while core profit increased to €42 million from €11 million a year earlier. The company said it expected sales and profits to increase significantly for this year as a whole.

"Valuations, also for gaming companies, have shot up in the 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. "Market rumours have talked about (a Rovio) valuation of around US$2 billion, but compared with historic results... that sounds really high."

HIGH PROJECTED VALUATION

Valuations, also for gaming companies, have shot up in the past few years. So it's a tempting time for the owners to make an exit. Market rumours have talked about (a Rovio) valuation of around US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion), but compared with historic results... that sounds really high.

ANALYST ATTE RIIKOLA, from Helsinki-based equity research firm Inderes.

Technology analysts have said Rovio is too dependent on its Angry Birds brand and should create new intellectual property to help it grow.

The company's main game titles at the moment include Angry Birds 2, Angry Birds Friends and a new multiplayer game Battle Bay. In total, its games had on average 80 million monthly active users during the second quarter.

Rovio is also planning a sequel to the Angry Birds movie with Columbia Pictures, scheduled for release in 2019. It declined to comment on when the listing on the Helsinki stock exchange would take place.

Rovio is 69 per cent owned by Trema International, a firm owned by Mr Kaj Hed, the uncle of company co-founder Niklas Hed.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Angry Birds maker Rovio hopes to soar with IPO plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe