Candy Crush creator King files for $5bn IPO in US
King, the British computer games maker behind Candy Crush Saga, has quietly filed documents for an initial public offering of shares in the firm in the US, expected to value the firm at more than $5bn.
It is understood that King will float on the Nasdaq exchange in what is likely to be the biggest IPO by a UK technology company for years.
King, which used to be referred to as Britain's answer to Zynga before the latter company's fall from grace, has lodged its pre-IPO "S-1" paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, taking advantage of the same loophole for rapidly-growing businesses that allowed Twitter to keep its IPO confidential.
Few financial details are available, but it was turning over around £300m at the start of this year and has grown rapidly since then. Its games were played an average of 300m times a month in 2011 but that figure now tops 30bn, helped by the success of Candy Crush Saga, which is the most popular game played on Facebook.
Zynga, which has roughly half as many users, has a market capitalization of $3.6m.
However, King will have a battle on its hands to convince would-be investors that it will not go the same way as Zynga, whose stock plummeted when its costs spiraled and it fell out if favour with Facebook.
The San Francisco games company was arguably displaced by King, which Facebook has hailed as "the poster child for the fast-growing European games industry".
King held discussions with JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and Bank of America to lead the IPO, and has hired Hope Cochran as chief financial officer. Ms Cochran previously led the successful IPO of US technology firm Clearwire.
While many technology companies seeking IPOs are relative newcomers, looking to fuel their next stage of growth, King has been around for some time. The business, which is headquartered in London’s Soho district, was founded in 2003, and has been profitable since 2005.
The company declined to comment on its IPO filing, but chief executive Riccardo Zacconi has previously signaled his interest in floating the business in America.