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Finnish mobile game start-up Next Games plans listing

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish mobile game startup Next Games is planning to list its shares on the Helsinki bourse, it said on Monday.

Next Games, founded in 2013, is the first gaming company to prepare for an initial public offering in Finland, which is known for its hit mobile games such as Rovio's Angry Birds and Supercell's Clash of Clans.

Next Games is focused on entertainment franchises, and its mainstay title The Walking Dead: No Man's Land - based on the U.S. TV show - has been downloaded 16 million times since its launch in 2015.

The contemplated listing on the Nasdaq First North Finland, a marketplace for growth companies, is expected to consist of a 30 million euro ($31.74 million) share issue, the company said.

Chief Executive Teemu Huuhtanen said the company's sales tripled to around 31 million euros ($32.8 million) last year, and business became profitable in the second half of the year.

"There are operative advantages in an IPO... It strengthens recognition and brand awareness, which helps in recruiting as well as in doing business with large entertainment companies," he said.

So far, Next Games has raised about $18 million from investors including U.S. venture fund IDG Ventures, start-up investor Jari Ovaskainen, film studio Lionsgate and cable-TV company AMC Networks.

Supercell, whose war strategy game Clash of Clans, a consistent top-earning application, considered flotation last year but opted for a deal in which China's Tencent Holdings bought a majority stake in the firm.

Angry Birds maker Rovio in 2011 spoke about a possible IPO in New York, but its growth evaporated in the following years, prompting job cuts and divestments.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Susan Thomas)

 

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