Zynga Acquires Mobile Game Developer

And reports 2013 results

Social gaming giant Zynga has entered into an agreement to acquire the privately-held mobile game and technology developer NaturalMotion for approximately $527 million in cash and equity, based on Zynga’s closing price on January 29, 2014.

Under the terms of the deal NaturalMotion’s shareholders and vested option holders will receive an aggregate of $391 million in cash and approximately 39.8 million shares of Zynga Class A Common Stock.

Around 11.6 million of the 39.8 million shares will be issued to continuing employees and will be subject to vesting over a three-year period

The company which was founded in 2001 has approximately 260 employees across Oxford, London, Brighton and San Francisco and is led by technology innovator and co-founder Torsten Reil who serves as chief executive officer and vice president of games, Barclay Deeming.

The acquisition of NaturalMotion, whose hit games include CSR Racing and Clumsy Ninja, is expected to expand Zynga’s creative pipeline into two new consumer categories, accelerate mobile growth and provide cutting edge technology and tools to fast track Zynga’s ability to deliver hit games.

"We believe that bringing Zynga and NaturalMotion together is the right step at the right time," said Don Mattrick, chief executive officer of Zynga. "Their creative portfolio aligns perfectly with our content strategy as Zynga will now have five top brands and capabilities in the Farm, Casino, Words, Racing and People categories. We are confident that we will build upon our market position with complementary strengths to generate long term value for our consumers, our employees and our shareholders."

"NaturalMotion set out to make games that wow millions of people, by being obsessed with quality, disrupting and creating genres, and using almost magical technology. When we started talking to Don and his team, it quickly became clear that they shared this vision," commented Reil.

"Don’s background in AAA games and Zynga’s expertise in social game play and large-scale game operations will be invaluable to helping us grow our existing CSR and Clumsy Ninja franchises and maximize the breakout potential of our upcoming titles.

"We’ve reached our first milestones – creating #1 top-grossing and top-free titles – on our own. We can’t wait to see what we can achieve together with Zynga".

In related news, despite a 32 percent drop in revenue in its full year 2013 results, Zynga forecasts a recovery in 2014 based on the growth it has achieved with its "With Friends" and "Zynga Casino" products.

A 15 percent global workforce reduction (approximately 314 employees) and an expanded cost savings plan going forward is expected to generate around $33 million in pre-tax savings during 2014.

In the social casino genre, Zynga’s Casino franchise achieved sequential quarterly growth in bookings for the first time in the past 18 months and Zynga Poker grew mobile monthly active users 8 percent sequentially.

Its recently launched mobile slots product Hit It Rich! on tablet currently stands in pole position on the free iPad charts in the Casino category.

Don Mattrick, chief executive officer of Zynga, commenting on the results said:

"Over the last 7 months, our teams have been working with a sense of urgency. We finished 2013 in a strong position and expect 2014 to be a growth year. We believe that Q1 will be a solid foundation for that growth and we expect substantial improvements for the remainder of the year across audience, bookings and Adjusted EBITDA.

"The investments we are making to grow and sustain our franchises are beginning to bear fruit, particularly in Zynga Casino and Words With Friends. We are committed to refining our skills in the art and science of building new hit games and in 2014, we will move aggressively into new genres that align with the timeless, entertainment categories that consumers care about.

"Our market is growing as measured by device, audience and dollars and we have the privilege to compete in one of the fastest growing parts of the entertainment industry. We have an ambitious agenda and we are moving quickly to add capabilities that are complementary and strategic to our core growth plans."

Other key performance indicators for full year 2013 include:

– Revenue of $873 million, a decrease of 32 percent y-o-y.

– Online game revenue was $759 million, a decrease of 34 percent y-o-y.

– Advertising revenue was $114 million, a decrease of 17 percent y-o-y.

– Bookings were $716 million, a decrease of 38 percent y-o-y.

– Net loss was $37 million in 2013, which included $84 million of stock-based expense, $45 million of restructuring expense and a $28 million income tax benefit.

– Adjusted EBITDA was $47 million in 2013, a decrease of 78 percent y-o-y, primarily due to the decline in bookings.

– As of December 31, 2013, cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities were approximately $1.54 billion, compared to $1.65 billion as of December 31, 2012.

Online Casino News Courtesy of Infopowa

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