Rovio Entertainment Oy, the Finnish creator of the “Angry Birds” mobile-phone game, is in talks to receive funding that would value the company at about $1.2 billion, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.
The Espoo, Finland-based game maker is considering taking a strategic investment from a company in the entertainment business, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. The name of the entertainment company couldn’t immediately be determined. Rovio has rejected similar offers from large institutional investors, the people said.
Rovio may use any new funds to fuel its expansion. The company plans to make an “Angry Birds” movie and open offices outside of Finland, and is seeking to capitalize on the popularity of its brand in countries such as China, where it aims to sell stuffed animals and clothing in 200 retail stores.
The most likely investors in Rovio include game developers Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) and Zynga Inc., and media giants News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. (DIS), said Michael Pachter, managing director of research at Wedbush Securities Inc. These companies could help Rovio reach new audiences, he said.
“I can see how Disney would take ‘Angry Birds’ and turn them into a theme-park ride and a movie,” said Pachter, who is based in Los Angeles. “Zynga could take ‘Angry Birds’ and make it into ‘FarmVille.’”
In March, Rovio received $42 million in funding from investors including Skype Technologies SA co-founder Niklas Zennstrom’s Atomico as well as Facebook Inc. backer Accel Partners.
Sini Matikainen, a spokeswoman for Rovio, declined to comment on the company’s funding plans. Jeff Brown, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, declined to comment on potential investments. Dani Dudeck, a spokeswoman for Zynga, also declined to comment, as did Dan Berger, a spokesman for News Corp. in Los Angeles. Zenia Mucha, a spokeswoman for Disney, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Angry Birds” is one of several Web games to be offered on Google Inc.’s new social-networking site, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a blog post yesterday.
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