Mobile gaming firm Playtika's shares jump nearly 24% in Nasdaq debut

(Reuters) - Shares of Israel-based mobile gaming company Playtika Holding Corp jumped nearly 24% in their debut on the Nasdaq on Friday, valuing the company at nearly $13.79 billion.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Shares opened at $33.4, above their upsized initial public offering (IPO) price of $27 per share. The company raised $1.88 billion in the IPO.

Playtika’s IPO is the biggest U.S. listing this year.

Demand for mobile gaming has surged since the beginning of the coronavirus-led lockdowns last year, as people continue to hunker down at home and educational institutions remain shut in most countries to curb the spread of the outbreak.

“We didn’t need to go public over the past few years, as we were cash flow positive. But as started growing faster and getting bigger, we felt the time was ripe for us to go public,” said Robert Antokol, founder and chief executive officer of Playtika.

Antokol added that Playtika is developing a number of new games and is planning to launch at least one new game within the next 12 months.

Playtika’s debut comes at the end of one of the biggest and busiest weeks for new listings in at least five years, as companies rush to cash in on the strongest market for IPOs in nearly two decades, after a pandemic-driven lull early last year.

Founded in 2010, the company has more than 35 million monthly active users, according to its website. Its games include Bingo, Blitz and Slotomania.

Playtika was acquired by Caesars Interactive Entertainment in 2011. In 2016, a group of Chinese investors, led by Giant Network Group Co Ltd, acquired Playtika from Caesars for $4.4 billion.

Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, UBS and BofA Securities were the lead underwriters for the offering.

Reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel