Keywords Studios ready to list on London exchange
AN Irish technology firm is to list on the London market as it looks to expand its operations around the world.
Dublin-based Keywords Studios confirmed yesterday that it has applied for a listing on London's AIM stock market for smaller companies.
Keywords, which was set up in Leopardstown in 1998, provides translation services and other localisation operations for the computer games industry. In essence, this means taking a game that has been developed in one language and translating dialogue and other parts of the game into other languages as required.
The company has tweaked some of the biggest gaming franchises of all time, including the Pro-Evolution Soccer series and the Halo role-playing games.
A flotation is expected to value the company at around €65m. The firm hopes to raise around €12m through the process. Most of those funds will be put into acquisitions where possible.
Keywords employs about 120 full-time staff in Leopardstown, swelling to more than 400 as projects require.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, company chief executive Andrew Day said the firm expected to formally go public within the next four to six weeks.
"There are various criteria that we need to take care of but we don't anticipate any major problems at the moment," he said.
"We start our investor road show next week and then we'll take it from there," he added.
"The services we provide the games industry are very specific.
"We take the original language the game is in and translate it into a local language, but you can't take the literal translation.
"You need the local dialects and idioms etc. Computer games have to be totally immersive so you have to make sure the translations, both in text and audio, are right on the money, otherwise the game experience will be ruined," he added.
Keywords was set up by an Italian, Giorgio Guastalla, in 1998 when he was with Microsoft in Dublin. Since then the company has expanded, with offices in Montreal, Tokyo and Seattle.
Despite being based here, Mr Day said the company never seriously considered listing in Dublin.
"You tend to go to where the gaming companies are. For us that meant London or the Nasdaq in the States, with Tokyo maybe our third choice," he said.
Mr Day, who spent several years as a mergers and acquisition specialist in the City of London, before switching to the IT sector at the height of the dot com boom in the late 1990s, admitted he was looking at a number of acquisitions for Keywords in the months ahead.
"We'll look at opportunities as they arise, but there is a big difference between having a wish list and actually closing those deals, so we'll wait to see what happens," he added.