Candy Crush-maker King sees up to $7.6 billion IPO valuation

Wednesday 12 March 2014 12.43
King Digital Entertainment is looking to take advantage of strong demand for tech investments
King Digital Entertainment is looking to take advantage of strong demand for tech investments

King Digital Entertainment, the maker of hit mobile phone game Candy Crush Saga, expects to be worth up to $7.6 billion when it goes public this month.

The company is looking to take advantage of strong demand for technology investments.

The successful IPO of Twitter in November and a surge in Facebook's share price have fueled speculation that a string of technology firms could come to market.

These include music-sharing service Spotify, lodging service AirBnB and payments company Square.

King should also get a boost in its US initial public offering from a surge in shares of digital coupon company Coupons.com after it went public on Friday. Shares of Coupons.com doubled after being priced above the company's planned IPO range.

King Digital said it expected to price its IPO of 22.2 million shares at between $21 and $24 per share. At the top of this range, the company would be valued at about $7.6 billion.

The offering is scheduled to be priced on March 25 and the stock will start trading on March 26, two underwriters told Reuters.

The company will sell 15.5 million shares in the offering, while stockholders, including Apax Ventures, will sell 6.7 million shares, the company said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission today. 

King is hoping to benefit from a shift towards mobile platforms, social networks and app stores. The company derived 73% of gross bookings from mobile users in the fourth quarter ended December 31.

In February, an average of 144 million daily active users played the company's games more than 1.4 billion times per day, the filing showed.

The King IPO will raise as much as $532.8m at the top-end of the planned range. It filed for a $500m placeholder in February. 

Entities related to Apax will own 44.2% of the company following the offering, according to the IPO filing. CEO Riccardo Zacconi, who has led the company since it was founded in 2003 in Sweden, will have a 9.5% stake.

Candy Crush Saga, which involves moving candies to make a line of three in the same colour, was the most downloaded free app of 2013 and the year's top revenue-grossing app.

It has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its launch in 2012. The basic games are free, but players must pay for add-ons or extra lives.

King offers 180 games in 14 languages through mobile phones, Facebook and its own website, but is heavily reliant on Candy Crush, which brings in about three-quarters of its revenues.

The company said it has applied to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "KING".