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High-flying London start-up King seeks $500m IPO in New York

Candy Crush maker King has shunned London's markets in favour of the NYSE

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King, the London-based mobile gaming company behind the Candy Crush Saga phenomena, has revealed that it is shunning the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and turning to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) for an upcoming  IPO, where it hopes to raise up to $500 million (£300 million). 

The firm, headquartered in London’s Covent Garden, filed to go public today with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The document doesn’t detail the price at which shares will be offered, but King is thought to be seeking $500 million (£300 million) from the listing.

King offers more than 180 games in 14 languages through its King.com website, mobile platforms such as the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, the Amazon Appstore and Facebook.

In the filing, King claims to have 128 million daily active users and over 1.2 billion games being played every day. However, Candy Crush Saga accounts for 93 million of those daily users and 1.085 billion of those games played.

In short, the 11-year-old company appears to have all its eggs in one basket.

Last year the company’s profits soared to $568 million (£340 million). However, investors may be wary as the company’s revenues dipped between the third and fourth quarters of the year, with profits falling from $230 million (£138 million) to $159 million (£95 million).

“The opportunity in front of us is exciting: mobile usage is exploding and games are commanding the lion’s share of time spent,” explains King’s filing.

“We have a substantial cash position and no debt, and we have been cash flow positive since 2005. Going public creates a liquid market for our current and future employees and equity holders and will give us greater flexibility to act on strategic opportunities if they arise in the future.”

King has games development studios in Barcelona, Bucharest, Berlin, London, Malmo, and Stockholm and offices in San Francisco, Malta, and Korea.

The news is likely to come as a blow to the London Stock Exchange and Tech City UK who are actively trying to persuade UK tech firms to list on London markets. 

Last month, Marcus Stuttard who heads up the UK Primary Markets and the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) at the 213-year-old London Stock Exchange, told Techworld that London start-ups can raise just as much money here as they can in New York.

"I simply don’t accept that there is more capital available elsewhere for UK tech businesses," he said at the time.  

London Stock Exchange refused to comment on King’s decision to list in New York. 

Tech City UK chairman Joanna Shields said: "London’s offering for tech entrepreneurs and growth companies is unique. London’s markets (AIM, Main Market, High Growth Segment) can support the growth of firms from SME to FTSE100 providing much broader optionality compared to the US markets.”



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