Shares of "Candy Crush" maker King fall in market debut

Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:35pm IST

Mascots dressed as characters from the mobile video game ''Candy Crush Saga'' pose outside the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Mascots dressed as characters from the mobile video game ''Candy Crush Saga'' pose outside the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc March 26, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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REUTERS - Shares of King Digital Entertainment Plc (KING.N), maker of the wildly popular "Candy Crush Saga" game, fell as much as 15 percent in their trading debut on Wednesday, valuing the company at about $6 billion.

London-based King raised about $500 million after its initial public offering was priced at $22.50 per share, the mid-point of the targeted price range.

The two-year-old Candy Crush game, in which users move candies to line up at least three in the same color, has a seemingly endless supply of new levels and features to keep its nearly 100 million users occupied every day.

Its success has spawned reports of Candy Crush addiction with a Facebook page dedicated to addicts of the game, in which users get daily bonuses and new levels every few weeks.

The free game has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its launch on mobile devices. Using the "freemium" model, King makes money by selling players extra lives, lucky candy and other add-ons.

King sold 15.5 million shares of the 22.2 million offered, with the rest coming from stakeholders including private equity firm Apax Partners, which remains the biggest shareholder.

King's shares opened at $20.50 and hit a low of $19.08 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

In February, King said an average of 144 million daily active users played its games more than 1.4 billion times per day.

King's IPO is the largest by a mobile gaming company since Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O) went public in 2011, valuing the maker of "Farmville" at $7 billion.

Zynga's market value has since shrunk to about $4.2 billion, raising concerns about the danger of investing in companies that rely heavily on a single hit game.

While King also offers about other 180 games, about three-quarters of its revenue comes from "Candy Crush".

JP Morgan, Credit Suisse and BofA Merrill Lynch were lead underwriters for the offering.

(Reporting by Neha Dimri and Anil D'Silva in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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