Mobile game giant Playtika files for an IPO

Israel-based mobile gaming giant Playtika has filed for its long-awaited initial public offering (IPO).

Now it has a window of opportunity as gaming stocks are riding high, mostly because people are playing while sheltering in place during the pandemic. This window won’t necessarily last forever, particularly if bad economic news knocks the markets down again. But plenty of companies are lining up to take advantage of the moment. Skillz, a mobile esports company, went public on Thursday as it took advantage of the same trading window.

Playtika was founded in 2010, and has over 3,700 employees in offices worldwide including Herzliya (Israel), Chicago, Las Vegas, Santa Monica, Tel-Aviv, London, Berlin, Vienna, Helsinki, Montreal, Sydney, and more. The company makes social casino games such as the World Series of Poker.

The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined. Playtika has applied to list its common stock on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “PLTK.”

Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse will act as lead bookrunners for the proposed offering. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, UBS Investment Bank, and BofA Securities will act as additional bookrunners for the proposed offering. Baird, Cowen, Stifel, and Wedbush Securities will act as co-managers for the proposed offering.

Playtika is a leading independent mobile games company and monetization platform with over 35 million monthly active users across a portfolio of games titles.

The company filed its papers for the IPO on December 9, but now the information in the S-1 document is available.

History

Above: Playtika’s new brand motto is infinite ways to play.

CEO Robert Antokol founded Playtika as a social casino game company a decade ago. Caesars Interactive Entertainment acquired Playtika in 2011 but sold it to a consortium of Chinese game companies for $4.4 billion five years later. At that time, Playtika had more than 2,800 employees, but additional deals have expanded the staff to over 4,000 people. Playtika has now acquired more than 15 companies and grown so big it had to rebrand itself to let employees know what it stands for.

The rebranding, which we wrote about in September, focused on the phrase “infinite ways to play.” Simply put, Playtika wants to create infinite ways to play its games, which span casual, hardcore, and social casino genres, CMO Nir Korczak said in an interview with GamesBeat at the time.

Playtika’s owner is Alpha Frontier, a consortium of investors that includes Giant chair Shu Yuzhu. In fact, Giant has tried to acquire the company, but without success. Among Playtika’s acquisitions are Germany’s Wooga, Austria’s Supertreat, and Finland’s Seriously. The company’s studios are spread over 19 offices, and it operates 20 different games, all of them free-to-play titles that get frequent updates (known as live operations). Playtika counts more than 35 million players who come back to its games every month — and 12 million who come back daily.

Public offerings for game companies generated $9.2 billion in value in the first nine months of 2020, according to game investment tracking firm InvestGame.

While the stock market took some dives early in the year, the market started to recover in June, with multiple companies going public in Asia. Archosaur Games raised $280 million, Kakao Games raised $330 million, and Activision Blizzard raised $2 billion in senior debt as a refinancing move. Unity Technologies raised $1.3 billion at a $13.6 billion valuation in mid-September, and Skillz went public at a $3.5 billion valuation. Roblox has also filed papers for an IPO, but it recently postponed it until next year.

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