Rovio Grooming ‘Angry Birds’ Maker for Possible U.S. IPO

Rovio Mobile Oy, the maker of the hit mobile-phone game “Angry Birds,” is grooming its business for an initial public offering, Chief Executive Officer Mikael Hed said.

“We probably want to be in a marketplace that is as liquid as possible, which would probably mean NASDAQ is our stock exchange of choice,” Hed said in a phone interview. “If we can do it in the next few years, that would be great.”

With its arsenal of birds fired from slingshots at fortresses of pigs who’ve stolen their eggs, Angry Birds raced up the charts on the iPhone to become the top-selling paid software in Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s App Store last year. Angry Birds now boasts 40 million active users.

Rovio, based in Espoo, Finland, last week announced $42 million in funding from investors including Skype Technologies SA co-founder Niklas Zennstrom’s Atomico Ventures. That may value the company at 200 million euros ($284 million), Finnish business website Talouselaemae said today. Hed dismissed the figure as speculation.

Rovio booked more than 5 million euros ($7 million) in sales and 3 million euros in profit for the second half of 2010, Hed said. It plans to use the venture funding to expand into new markets such as online games and consoles.

Rovio is readying a new Angry Birds game with a storyline tied to upcoming animated bird film “Rio” from Blue Sky Studios, the makers of “Ice Age,” and 20th Century Fox.

Expansion Planned

“We are working exactly according to plan, we’re releasing a lot of new games, there’s ‘Rio’ coming out next week, that’s going to be a big thing,” Hed said. “There’s a lot of new development happening on the studio side and the business development side.”

Rovio, whose founders met at a Helsinki hacking contest in 2003, published more than 50 games for Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) phones and other handsets before hitting the big time with Angry Birds.

The 50-person company, has also introduced versions of Angry Birds for desktop computers, and sold more than 2 million stuffed toys shaped like the game’s characters, priced at between $11.99 and $59.99 on its website store.

To contact the reporter on this story: Diana ben-Aaron in Helsinki at dbenaaron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vidya Root in Paris at vroot@bloomberg.net

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