More exciting news ahead of G5 Entertainment‘s relisting to Nasdaq OMX.
According to several sources, the publisher of the hit mobile game “Candy Crush Saga” has hired banks to pursue a U.S. initial public offering, a move that will focus the market’s attention on valuation within the mobile gaming space. This will further highlight the significant discount at which the G5 share is currently trading, compared with international peers.
Midasplayer International Holding Co., the publisher of online and mobile games including the popular “Candy Crush Saga”—which involves matching up columns and rows of candy items—has hired banks to pursue a U.S. initial public offering, according to people familiar with the move.
The London company, better known as King, has tapped banks including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse Group AG, and Bank of America Corp to handle a potential offering, these people said. They cautioned that the pricing and timing of any deal hadn’t yet been completed.
A spokesman for the company said: “King’s success and growth presents numerous opportunities for the business to develop further, and one option would be to take the company public. However, while it’s an option for the future, we would not comment on when we could consider making such a decision.”
If the deal comes to market, it will be a major test of appetite for online gaming companies in the wake of the poor performance of Zynga shares since its IPO in 2011.
Zynga’s shares have fallen about 70% since their debut in December 2011, as it has struggled to translate the success of games like “FarmVille,” which was a big hit on social network Facebook to mobile platforms.
But the opportunity is there for mobile game makers who can strike the right cord with their audience. Mobile game sales are expected to ring in at more than $9.9 billion this year, up 13.5% from the $8.8 billion spent in 2012, according to market researcher PwC.
By comparison, PwC said, the more mature console and online games markets are expected to grow much slower, though both their sales tallies are more than twice the size.
King traces its roots to 2003, when its founders started a gaming website called Midasplayer.com, which featured games such as 8-Ball Pool that were primarily played on its website and other Web portals.
Private-equity firm Apax Partners and venture-capital firm Index Ventures invested about $50 million in the company in 2005. Since then, the emergence of Facebook and smartphones has given King and other videogame makers a vastly wider audience.
Last year, King chief executive and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi told reporters at multiple publications that the company was preparing for a possible IPO in 2013. Mr. Zacconi said “we have the option,” according to VentureWire, a publication that, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp . He also said that King had been profitable since 2005.
The company’s leading game, “Candy Crush Saga,” was launched on Facebook in April 2012. It is the most popular app on Facebook, with an estimated 15.4 million average daily users as of the most recent figures, according to AppData. “Candy Crush Saga” has also been one of the most frequently downloaded free apps via the iPhone and Google Play, according to App Annie, which tracks app store purchases.
It is also among the highest grossing apps on iPhone and Google Play when users’ in-game purchases are considered, App Annie figures show.
King said last month it had more than 70 million daily players across all its games, which also include titles such as “Pet Rescue Saga” and “Farm Heroes Saga.”
Zynga had 52 million daily active users in the three months ended March 31, down from 65 million a year earlier, according to company reports.
Despite Zynga’s troubles, several other videogame companies may be eyeing public offerings. Kabam Inc., which makes “Kingdoms of Camelot” and the movie tie-in racing game “Fast And Furious 6,” last year signaled its plans to go public by 2014. The company has stayed quiet on that front since then, however.
Rovio Entertainment Ltd., the Finnish game maker of the “Angry Birds” series, made more than $200 million in revenue last year with nearly half of those sales from licensing and merchandise. Executives have expressed interest in an IPO but haven’t detailed any specific plans.
In March, another Finnish company, Supercell Oy, said it was profitable and grossing more than $500,000 in revenue per day from its two games, the medieval-strategy title “Clash of Clans” and the farming app “Hay Day.”
More established videogame companies are feeling the pressure. Last month, Japanese game maker GungHo Online Entertainment which offers the popular mobile title “Puzzle and Dragons,” saw its market capitalization surpass that of Nintendo. The game was the world’s top revenue-grossing game app in March, according to industry research firm App Annie.
Stocks of others in the videogame field—even venerable names like Electronic Arts—have bounced upward lately. A key reason: investors are betting that consumer spending on games, which has slid lately, will rebound with the release of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 later this year.
But the part of gaming that is set to grow fastest is mobile and G5 Entertainment is one of the few listed pure plays on mobile gaming. We continue to believe that a substantial revaluation will take place once the relisting is concluded.
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