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Polish games operator's IPO a success as stay-at home lockdown boosts outlook

WARSAW (Reuters) - Shares in Polish gaming company Games Operators rose further on Monday, after doubling on their debut late last week as investors bet on increased interest in gaming during lockdowns due to the coronavirus.

Games Operators’ shares doubled on Friday from a sale price of 22 zlotys but were also suspended for most of the day due to very high bids.

The shares resumed trade on Monday and by 1000 GMT were up 7.5% from Friday’s close to 47.3 zlotys. The stock led the market in turnover value.

The IPO marks a success at a time when the Warsaw bourse has struggled for new listings. In Europe, not a single European company listed on the stock market in March.

Games Operators, founded in 2015, sold 1.1 million shares in its initial public offering in March, including 250,000 new shares, at 22 zlotys each compared to a maximum price of 28.5 zlotys.

The IPO was worth 24.2 million zlotys ($5.82 million). The company raised 5.5 million zlotys and the rest went to investors who sold their shares.

“Lockdown and the epidemic are certainly making people spend much more time using mobile devices. This is confirmed by the available data and analyzes,” said Kacper Kopron, analyst at Trigon DM.

Poland has emerged as a leading video game exporter thanks in part to low labour costs, a young educated workforce and a gaming tradition rooted in the Communist era. The coronavirus restrictions have further lifted the sector.

A stronger dollar against the zloty has also boosted Polish video games sales, as many companies sell most of their products outside Poland.

Games Operators’ book-building concluded on March 12, a day before Poland announced it was closing borders and put restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“During our roadshow we quickly switched to fist bumps, ‘elbows’ or Asian style bows instead of the traditional hand shake,” founder and Chief Executive Bartlomiej Gajewski said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters.

“The amount we raised meets our expectations and it will allow us to follow our assumptions and goals,” the CEO said.

Santander BM, the book-runner, said that the fact that Games Operators is from a sector that thrives when people are forced to stay at home played a decisive role in the offer.

Games Operators is a relatively small player. Shares in the CD Projekt - the country’s biggest games maker and producer of the top-selling Witcher series - have risen by 21% since the start of the year as the Warsaw blue chip index WIG20 declined by 25%.

Investor attention to the gaming industry also helped startup firm covenant.dev raise over 1 million zlotys from a share issue at the end of March.

“We hope that the interest (in gaming sector) will not weaken in the second half of the year when we will be placing another share issue,” said Stanislaw Just, CEO of covenant.dev.

Editing by Michael Kahn and Susan Fenton

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