Huuuge IPO Helps Cement Warsaw Bourse as Hotspot for Gaming
(Bloomberg) -- Poland is solidifying its status as a hotspot for gaming studios seeking new capital after mobile game-maker Huuuge Inc. announced plans to go public on the Warsaw bourse.
The producer of free-to-play social casino games said on Monday it is seeking to raise $150 million from offering new shares. Shareholders, including founder Anton Gauffin, also plan to sell part of their stakes, with the company targeting a free float of more than 25%. Huuuge aims to lure investors with average annual sales growth of more than 30% over the past three years.
Mobile games with in-app purchases have become the main driver for the industry as millions of people seek entertainment while stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Huuuge, with an average 4.7 million monthly users, plans to use proceeds of the IPO for takeovers.
After “a banner” 2020, the industry faces a tougher year given an already high earnings base, expectations for easing Covid-19 restrictions and changes to Apple Inc. privacy systems that will make acquiring clients harder, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Matthew Kanterman.
Larger mobile-game publishers may use such headwinds as an opportunity for acquisitions given their strong cash positions, Kanterman said. The recent IPO success of Playtika Holding Corp. shows that investors have an appetite for casino-type games that allow for interaction between players, and that may be seen as supportive for Huuuge, he said.
Huuuge, with most of staff located in Poland, was created by Gauffin in 2015 as a spin-off from his earlier projects. It later got support from South Korean funds. It’s set to become the 14th gaming company listed on Warsaw’s main market. The firm’s business model is to some extent similar to Ten Square Games SA, the maker of a fishing simulator, whose shares soared 178% last year.
For Gauffin, the end of lockdowns shouldn’t reduce demand for free-to-play games amid a growing number of “digital natives,” used to mobile apps as the main form of home entertainment, as well as due to the importance of social interactions that such games offer. Policies of major app platforms will gradually become more favorable for publishers as an outcome of Epic Games Inc.’s dispute with Apple Inc, Gauffin told Bloomberg News in a phone interview.
The Warsaw Stock Exchange attracted three gaming IPOs in 2020 with the end of the year being marked by difficulties for the country’s biggest studio CD Projekt SA after its new Cyberpunk 2077 game was riddled with glitches. The bourse’s NewConnect platform for smaller firms attracted nine game producers in the same period.
Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are global coordinators for Huuuge’s offering, while Ipopema Securities SA is also managing the sale.
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