The London games studio behind the hit mobile game Candy Crush Saga has confirmed plans for a stock market float, snubbing the UK in favour of a New York listing.
App developer King hopes to raise up to $500m (£300m) on the New York Stock Exchange this year. The flotation is expected to value King at up to $5bn; its co-founder and chief executive, Riccardo Zacconi, could see his 10 per cent stake in the business valued at up to £300m. The Mayfair-based venture capital firm Apax Partners could make billions from its 45 per cent stake.
It was revealed this month that the 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 set up programmes such as Tech City UK and Future Fifty to try to stop home-grown tech talent migrating to the US.
King also listed its headquarters as Dublin, even though it has a 25,000 sq ft office near Carnaby Street. Technology firms such as Facebook and Google book sales through Irish offices for tax purposes, and the move could indicate King might do something similar. King declined to comment.
King was founded in London and Stockholm in 2003 by Mr Zacconi, a former management consultant, and Toby Rowland, son of the former Lonrho boss 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, which employs 665 staff, recently revealed that the smartphone game has been downloaded more than half a billion times.
King's filing in America reveals that the game helped propel the company from a loss of $1m in the first quarter of 2012 to $159m profit in the final three months of 2013.
Last year King's revenue was $1.88bn, with $568m in profits. But 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.
The filing also revealed that profits and revenues declined between the third and fourth quarters of 2013. Profits fell from $230m to $159m. Across all its games King has 324 million monthly players, with 73 per cent of sales coming from smartphones.
King employs 665 staff and has offices in Stockholm, Barcelona, Bucharest, Malmö, San Francisco and Malta, where its website is domiciled.
Tidy arrangment: ISS to list on market
The Danish firm which cleans the London Underground set out listing plans yesterday and also shunned London, this time for the Copenhagen stock exchange.
ISS, the private equity-owned outsourcer with half a million staff, has already pulled IPO plans twice and ditched a £5.2bn merger with G4S in the face of shareholder opposition. "G4S needed ISS more than ISS needed G4S," Lord Allen, the former ITV boss who chairs the Danish firm, said. "This is an opportunity for [those] who missed out then to invest."
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