Playrix Holding Ltd., a mobile-game developer that made billionaires of its Russian founders, has bought into about a dozen studios to take on the likes of Activision Blizzard Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc.
Brothers Igor and Dmitry Bukhman said in an interview that by 2025 they want Playrix’s sales to catch up with those of the U.S. gaming giants. Over the past year they’ve spent more than $100 million on acquisitions and are planning to more than quadruple their portfolio of titles from about four that are available now.
While the gaming industry is awash in investors from KKR & Co. to Zynga Inc., the Bukhman brothers are determined to go it alone. They told Bloomberg News in April that while Wall Street dealmakers such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had been in touch, they wanted to expand the business themselves.
Since then, the brothers haven’t been persuaded of the merits of giving up control over Playrix in favor of a bigger pot of cash to spend. They prefer to leverage their understanding of the industry to act as a consolidator and nurture smaller players.
“Many firms are seeking acquisition targets to add to their revenue and show growth to investors,” Igor said. “We don’t have this pressure and are taking a more long-term approach — we are helping our portfolio companies to grow. We are sharing our experience and playing a role in their growth.”
Playrix said 2019 revenue is likely to reach $1.5 billion, as much as 30% more than the previous year’s, from sales of existing games including Gardenscapes. It was the ninth-biggest publisher last year, according to independent gaming data provider App Annie.
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