Wall Street may finally be getting over its “Fortnite” addiction.
Epic Games, the maker of the wildly popular, shoot-em-up video game, launched a flopped attempt to raise cash last month in a deal that would have valued the company nearly 40% higher than what it settled for a few weeks later, The Post has learned.
Earlier this month, Epic announced it raised $2 billion from Sony Group and Kirkbi, the Danish-based holding company for the Lego toy empire, in a deal that valued the company at $31.5 billion. That was slightly higher than the $28.7 billion the company was valued at in its previous funding round in April 2021.
What Epic failed to mention, however, is that a few weeks earlier it had been in the early stages of launching a tender offer through the Nasdaq private exchange in which the informal price expectation was for a $42 billion valuation, a source with direct knowledge of the situation said.
No firm price was set at the time, as Epic was gauging interest from existing investors including BlackRock, Fidelity Management, T. Rowe Price, hedge fund Appaloosa and private equity giant KKR. But before those investors could examine the most current Epic finances, Epic shut down the tender process, sources said.
That’s because Epic’s bankers “went out and heard crickets” from the investors after initially giving notice of the possible tender, the source said.
“The tender was getting ready to launch and they paused it,” a second source said, adding that Epic ended it a week or two before it was scheduled to open its data room.
An Epic spokesperson confirmed that the company “has been evaluating partnering with Nasdaq Private Market to provide an opportunity for its employees to engage in private secondary transactions with qualified purchasers for quite some time,” adding that “the initial timeline was postponed until after the announcement of our capital raise.”
“As with any company, the price a buyer may be willing to pay moves both up and down. None of these transactions are sponsored or managed by Epic,” the spokesperson added in a statement. “We are proud to have recently raised money from investors who share our vision, and that Epic’s value has continued to grow despite market turmoil.”
A key problem, according to insiders, is a bruising battle with Apple over the iPhone maker’s fees for app developers. Epic sued Apple and Google in 2020 when the tech giants booted Fortnite from their app stores after Epic set up its own in-app payment system in a bid to dodge their hefty 30% cut of fees.
A San Francisco federal judge in September largely ruled in Apple’s favor, except ruling that the gaming company could offer its own payment options to customers so they do not have to make purchases through the App Store.
Both sides have appealed the judge’s decision.
“Their profitability has dropped off a lot and the path to more growth from here isn’t clear,” an Epic investor told The Post. “Epic is still very profitable, but its numbers have been in decline throughout their battle with Apple.”
As part of its funding deal, Epic said it is working with Lego on building a metaverse for children, with Lego investing $1 billion in the new $2 billion funding round.
Fortnite in 2020 reportedly generated $5.1 billion in revenue, which is off its 2018 peak of $5.4 billion.
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