Angry Birds maker Rovio valued at $1 billion in IPO

Advertisement of Rovio's initial public offering seen in the street in Helsinki, Finland September 20, 2017. Picture taken Septemer 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jussi Rosendahl

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish mobile games studio Rovio Entertainment Ltd priced its initial public offering (IPO) at the top end of the initial range on Thursday, giving it a market value of 896 million euros ($1.06 billion) before its market debut on Friday.

Rovio, whose games have been downloaded 3.7 billion times, announced its long-awaited IPO this month, saying it aimed to boost growth and take part in gaming industry consolidation.

The price was set at 11.50 euros per share, compared with the initial range of 10.25-11.50 euros, the company said in a statement.

Rovio raised 30 million euros in the offering, with approximately 458 million euros going to its major owners, including Trema International and venture capital firms Accel Partners and Atomico.

“In the IPO, Rovio received gross proceeds ... that will be used to support Rovio’s growth strategy. We also believe that the listing will strengthen Rovio’s brand recognition and brand awareness ... and thus enhances Rovio’s competitiveness,” Chairman Mika Ihamuotila said in a statement.

Rovio grew rapidly after the original “Angry Birds” game was launched in 2009, but was slow to respond to a shift to freely available mobile games that make revenue from in-game purchases.

The company booked an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015. However, sales are now recovering on the back of the 2016 release of 3D movie “Angry Birds”, as well as new games.

In the first half of this year, Rovio’s sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million a year earlier.

Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Adrian Croft