Mobile gaming company iCandy Interactive (ASX: ICI) has taken another forward step on its mission to capitalise on the next generation of global gaming by acquiring a 51% stake in South East Asia-based Digital Games International – trading under the brand name Storms.
Essentially a start-up and with less than two years in operation, Storms was founded by Singtel, Advanced Info Service (AIS) and SK Telecom – the three largest mobile network operators in Singapore, Thailand and South Korea, respectively.
iCandy secured 51% of game development, publishing and licencing company Storms in exchange for $8 million of newly issued iCandy shares.
Storms’ owners have retained the option to sell their remaining 49% stake to iCandy within an agreed time period.
As part of the acquisition, Storms owners have stipulated a put option price that secures a 3.5x multiple of Storms’ last 12 months’ revenue in the event they choose to sell their remaining 49% shareholding.
Upon being exercised, the put option includes a valuation floor of $16 million with a further condition being that the option will be automatically exercised upon Storms earning more than S$10 million (A$10.5 million) revenue in a single year.
Rapidly growing revenue
Considering the conditions of the deal, Storms is incentivised to generate revenues as quickly as possible to trigger a total buyout – a point in time that could already be coming into view given Storms’ recent commercial performance.
In 2021, the gaming company generated $4.3 million in revenues – a 1,400% increase compared to the previous year.
Regulatory filings and reported figures show that Storms had a “healthy balance sheet position” with approximately $7.6 million in cash reserves.
The rationale behind the multimillion-dollar partial acquisition and subsequent partnership is to place iCandy into a better position to extend the reach of its portfolio by leveraging Storms’ extensive games publishing network, in the fastest growing gaming region in the world.
According to iCandy’s management team, this week’s Storms acquisition is a complimentary move that supports its overarching market strategy of producing popular AAA games for the so-called “metaverse” in the most gamer-friendly markets globally.
In November last year, the gaming company completed what it referred to as a “transformative” acquisition of video game, game art and animation studio Lemon Sky intended to “solidify its upstream capabilities and bolster its downstream competencies”.
Lemon Sky’s video game portfolio currently includes cult classic AAA game titles such as Spider-Man, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, The Last of Us Part 2, the Final Fantasy XIV franchise, Diablo III and StarCraft.
Eight months earlier, iCandy pounced in acquiring hyper-casual competitive gaming platform NextGamer as a means of galvanising its Web 3.0 gaming development capability.
As a demonstration of the calibre of games iCandy wants to produce and distribute for the mobile market, the company said it now had the “best-in-class skills” and experience to develop high-quality AAA games completely independently.
A particular concern has been recent skilled labour shortages within the gaming development sector – an issue that has now been alleviated courtesy of its recent acquisitions in the gaming space, according to the gaming company.
Furthermore, iCandy stated that its trifecta of acquisitions would significantly strengthen its “upstream production flow” in the form of game development and design capability.
Storms chief executive officer David Yin said there were many synergies between Storms and iCandy.
“This acquisition strengthens Storms’ ability to be a trailblazer in delivering more fun to the gaming community through efficient game development time and at scale,” he said.
According to Singtel’s chief corporate officer and chairman of Storms’ board, Ms Lim Cheng Cheng, Singtel partnered with iCandy to assist in developing a “metaverse gaming ambition” that advances the telco’s collective strategy to better serve its respective customers with “unique and engaging content”.
Singapore-based Singtel is currently a prominent telecoms provider in Asia, Australia and Africa with over 750 million customers, providing various telecoms services such as mobile, broadband and TV.
Meanwhile, SK Telecom vice president Jae Shin Lee explained that iCandy makes a great complementary addition to Storms as the company seeks to expand distribution and awareness of its products across Asia.
“Together, they will be well positioned to create and publish games for the metaverse and Web 3.0, as well as to bring Korean games into the South East Asian market,” he said.
As a gaming company taking positions in other gaming companies, iCandy is itself backed by significant media powerhouses including ASX company Fatfish Group (ASX: FFG) and crypto-gaming spearhead Animoca Brands.