Candy Crush creator King to float stock in New York

Co-founder and chief executive Riccardo Zacconi could see his 10% stake in the business valued at up to £300m

The app developer behind the smash mobile game Candy Crush Saga has announced plans to float on the New York Stock Exchange later this year after months of speculation.

While King did not specify pricing, the company is expected to be valued at up to $5 billion (£2.98 billion), netting its founders and major shareholders millions.

Co-founder and chief executive Riccardo Zacconi, who lives in London with his wife and son, could see his 10 per cent stake in the business valued at up to £300 million. Mayfair-based venture capital firm Apax Partners could make billions from its 45 per cent stake.

It was revealed this month that former Derby City FC director Mel Morris was also a significant investor in King. The company’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission named him as chairman of the company.

News of King’s decision to snub London in favour of the US will be a blow for the Government, which has sought to stop home-grown tech talent migrating to the US through initiatives such as Tech City UK and the Future Fifty programme.

King has also established its headquarters in Dublin, despite its 25,000-square-foot office being situated near Carnaby Street. While the move is understood not to impact the company's tax arrangements, it means its London office will be relegated to subsidiary status. King declined to comment.

King was founded in London and Stockholm in 2003 by former management consultant Zacconi and Toby Rowland, son of former Lonrho chief executive and Observer owner Roland “Tiny” Rowland.

The company originally developed small-stakes gambling games for sites such as Yahoo and MSN, before launching games on Facebook and mobile.

Launched in 2012, Candy Crush Saga has been a runaway success for the company. King recently revealed that the smartphone game has been downloaded more than half a billion times.

King’s stock exchange filing reveals that the game helped propel the company from a loss of $1 million in the first quarter of 2012 to a $159 million profit in the final three months of 2013. Revenue in the same period shot up from $22 million to $602 million.

However, the company admits that one of the biggest risks to investors is the fact that 78 per cent of all revenues come from Candy Crush. Across all its games, King had 324 million monthly players as of December 2013.

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