Angry Birds maker Rovio's CEO leaving by mutual consent

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The chief executive of Angry Birds games maker Rovio Entertainment ROVIO.HE said on Monday she would leave the company by mutual consent at the end of the year.

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Kati Levoranta has led Rovio since 2016 and took the company public in 2017. While the stock market listing was an initial success, Rovio issued a surprise profit warning just five months later, angering investors and halving its share price in one day.

The share price has never recovered, currently trading at around 6 euros, almost 50% lower than the listing price of 11.50 euros.

“We came to this conclusion by mutual consent with the board,” Levoranta said of her planned departure in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Levoranta said Rovio maintained its target of an operating margin of 30% long term as set when it listed, even though the margin has been between 6.3% and 11.2% in the past three years.

“It’s possible to reach a 30% EBIT with an excellent game catch,” she said.

Rovio has recently reidentified itself as “a mobile first” games company instead of “a games first entertainment company”, Levoranta said.

“So this is a good natural moment to think of the change (of CEO),” she said, adding that the company was now in excellent shape with good cash flow and a strong balance sheet.

While the IPO had “gone phut”, overall Levoranta has done an excellent job, OP analyst Kimmo Stenvall said.

“So clearly this is a loss for the company in my opinion,” he said.

Rovio shares were up 0.4% in afternoon trade, lagging a 1.2% rise in Helsinki’s benchmark share index.

“The company’s results and cash flow development are at a good level and its balance sheet is strong,” Rovio Chairman Kim Ignatius said in a statement, thanking Levoranta for her work.

Rovio said its board of directors would begin the search process for a new CEO.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki and Milla Nissi in Gdansk; Editing by David Goodman, Alexander Smith and Susan Fenton