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‘Angry Birds’ Creator Rovio Sees Modest IPO Liftoff Before Shares Fall to Close Flat

UPDATED: Shares of Rovio Entertainment — the games and entertainment company behind “Angry Birds” — rose as much as 7% in the company’s stock-market debut Friday, before closing the day at the IPO price.

Rovio shares began trading Friday under the ticker symbol “ROVIO” on the Nasdaq Helsinki exchange, in an initial public offering that yielded 30 million euros ($35 million) in gross proceeds to the company.

After pricing the IPO at 11.50 euros per share, Rovio stock peaked at 12.34 euros before falling later in the day. Shares were trading at 11.55 euros per share at 3:15 p.m. in Finland, up 0.4% from the IPO price but below the 12-euros-per share open. [UPDATE: Rovio shares closed at 11.50 euros per share, with 51.2 million shares changing hands.]

With the IPO, the Finnish company has a current market cap of about $1 billion — while Rovio’s owners reportedly had been hoping for a valuation of $2 billion ahead of the public offering. The company said in announcing the the proposed stock sale that it intends to use funds raised in the IPO to acquire other game makers.

“We have a clear will to be a consolidator, and we are in a very good position to do that,” vice chairman Kaj Hed, who remains Rovio’s largest shareholder, said in an interview Friday with Reuters. Kaj Hed — father of former Rovio CEO Mikael Hed and uncle of co-founder Niclas Hed — controls Trema International Holdings, whose ownership stake in Rovio dropped from 68.5% to 36.6% with the IPO.

Rovio, founded in 2003, had a huge early success with the “Angry Birds” game but in recent years the company has seen declining revenue and profits.

“Angry Birds” first launched as a mobile game in 2009. Today, Rovio develops and publishes multiple mobile games and produced 2016’s “The Angry Birds Movie” with Sony, which grossed $350 million at the box office worldwide. Rovio is developing a sequel slated for September 2019 release. Under the company’s revised strategy, Rovio does not plan to invest any of its own capital in the production of the movie.

For the 12 months ended June 30, 2017, Rovio reported revenue of 152.6 million euros (about $180 million at current exchange rates), up 94% from the year-earlier period, and a profit of 13.3 million euros ($16 million). The company’s games business unit accounted for 79% of revenue and brand licensing represented the remainder for the most recent 12-month period.

The company’s mobile games have been downloaded more than 3.7 billion times as of the end of June 2017, and they had on average 80 million monthly active users during the second quarter of 2017, according to Rovio. Recent game launches include “Angry Birds Evolution,” “Battle Bay” and “Angry Birds Match.”

In 2014, U.K. mobile game publisher King Digital, best known for “Candy Crush,” went public with an initial valuation of $7 billion — and its IPO bombed. King’s shares never rose above the IPO price, and Activision Blizzard acquired the company in a $5.9 billion deal in 2015.

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