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Angry Birds is among the most popular smartphone games ever. It has spawned a series of sequels, a line of toys and clothing, and a feature film.

Now, its owners want to cash in.

Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish maker of the games, said last week that it would go public in Helsinki.

The gaming company said that the initial public offering would consist of the sale of stock by its main shareholder, Trema International Holdings, and other shareholders. The company is also seeking to issue additional shares worth 30 million euros, or about $36 million, in the offering.

Rovio helped usher in the rise of smartphone games, building an empire around the Angry Birds brand. In the game, released in 2009, users fling birds at elaborate structures built by pigs that have stolen their eggs.

The idiosyncratic concept now has several spinoffs that rank among the most downloaded games on smartphones and tablets. Rovio's titles have been downloaded 3.7 billion times, the company said, and its games business accounted for 79 percent of its revenue in the 12 months through June.

Its feature film grossed around $350 million worldwide and a sequel is planned for release in September 2019, according to Rovio.

The announcement of the public offering marks a turnaround for a company that struggled financially in the years following the initial release of Angry Birds.

Rovio, like other mobile gaming companies, found it difficult to diversify beyond its hit brand. Mikael Hed, a co-founder, stepped down as its chief executive in 2014, and the company announced plans to cut nearly 40 percent of its workforce the following year.

Rovio, which started out by selling its games, was caught out as consumers gravitated to companies offering games under a so-called freemium model, in which players download the game for free and pay for additional features. The Finnish company has since switched from paid apps to free downloads of its games as part of its turnaround efforts.

Hed is still executive chairman of Rovio Animation, which helped bring The Angry Birds Movie to the big screen last year. This year, he formed a new entertainment company, Kaiken Entertainment.

Rovio, meanwhile, returned to a profit in 2016 and reported revenue of $230.6 million last year.

The Hed family maintains a major stake in the company. Hed's father, Kaj Hed, is the majority owner of Trema, which holds a nearly 69 percent stake in Rovio.

"Today, Rovio is stronger than ever," Kati Levoranta, Rovio's chief executive, said in a news release. "I am confident in our games-first strategy. The contemplated IPO and listing are an important milestone in developing Rovio into an even stronger games-first entertainment company."

Rovio is the latest game-maker to turn to the public markets after becoming a cultural phenomenon, following in the footsteps of the online gaming company Zynga and the mobile game developer King Digital Entertainment.

Popularity, however, has not necessarily translated into financial success.

Zynga, the company behind FarmVille and Words with Friends, was valued at $7 billion when it went public in 2011, but its shares are now trading at about a third of the value of its initial public offering.

SundayMonday Business on 09/11/2017

Print Headline: Angry Birds head eyes IPO to further pad nest

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