Candy Crush Maker King Digital Aims for $500M IPO

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- King Digital Entertainment, maker of the popular Candy Crush Saga game, plans to take the public plunge, aiming to raise $500 million in an initial public offering.

Trading under the ticker symbol 'KING,' the game developer plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange, according to its F-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Launched on Facebook (FB) in April 2012, Candy Crush Saga became a mobile phenomenon when it launched for devices such as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG) Android smartphones six months later. King Digital announced an expansion of the game in November 2013.

"We believe Candy Crush Saga, our top title to date, is one of the largest interactive entertainment franchises of all time," King Digital noted Monday in its F-1 filing. Other games in the company's family of products include Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga, Papa Pear Saga and Bubble Witch Saga.

The Dublin-based company had a network of 324 million monthly unique users in December 2013, according to the F-1. During the same month, an average of 128 million daily active users played the company's games more than 1.2 billion times per day.

King Digital's primary revenue driver is the sale of "virtual items" to users, such as extra lives, skill-enhancing boosters and the ability to unlock additional content. Between the first quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013, King Digital's revenue grew from $22 million to $602 million. Over the same period, its gross bookings climbed from $29 million to $632 million. King Digital defines gross bookings as the amount paid by gamers for virtual items and access to "skill tournaments." The number also includes payments for advertising space. During the fourth quarter of 2013, 73% of the company's gross bookings came from its mobile audience.

The company registered a loss of $1 million in the first quarter of 2012, which grew to a profit of $159 million in the fourth quarter of 2013.

J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse and BofA Merrill Lynch are lead underwriters for the IPO.

Candy Crush Saga tops the monthly active user leaderboard for Facebook apps, according to app analytics specialist AppData. The company's Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga hold second and third place, respectively. King Digital is the top Facebook app developer by monthly average user, ahead of Zynga  (ZNGA) and Microsoft (MSFT), AppData said. 

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

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