Rovio appoints Nokia veteran Suila as new COO, fueling IPO buzz

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Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment has named longtime Nokia (NYSE:NOK) executive Teemu Suila as its new chief operating officer.

Suila joined Nokia Group in 1995, focusing on corporate strategic and operational development efforts as well as portfolio and capability management. Rovio is turning to Suila to spearhead the firm's growth from mobile gaming powerhouse to worldwide entertainment brand.

Suila replaces Rovio COO Harri Koponen, who joined the firm roughly two years ago. "My expertise was needed to take the business to this point, and now is a good time to pass over the reins," Koponen said. "I will stay in the family by moving over into business development to Rovio's main shareholders investment company." Koponen is expected to join Trema International Holdings, which owns a reported 69.7 percent of Rovio; Trema founder Kaj Hed is the father of Rovio CEO Mikael Hed.

Suila is joining Rovio just a week after the company added Marimekko CEO Mika Ihamuotila to its board of directors. Both moves are likely to fuel speculation that Rovio is poised for an IPO: The firm first indicated its IPO plans in late 2011, but it has largely remained silent on the subject in the months since.  

Rovio reported full-year 2012 revenues of $195 million, up from $97 million the previous year, fueled by continuing demand for its Angry Birds games as well as branded merchandise. Rovio launched four chart-topping games in 2012: Angry Birds SpaceAngry Birds Star WarsBad Piggies and Amazing Alex. Gamers have now downloaded more than 1.7 billion Rovio titles across all platforms, and monthly active users top 263 million. The firm credits premium download fees, in-app virtual goods sales and advertising for driving gaming revenues, but it notes that its consumer products unit posted 2012 revenues three times greater than 2011, with licensed Angry Birds toys, clothes and board games now accounting for 45 percent of total Rovio revenues. 

Earlier this year, Rovio introduced Angry Birds Toons, a weekly animated series exploring the saga of the title characters and the pigs who stole their eggs. In tandem with Angry Birds Toons, Rovio launched a new video distribution channel spanning across all Angry Birds titles. Earlier this year, Rovio also unveiled a new advertising division spearheaded by former Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), MTV and Millennial Media (NYSE:MM) executives. The unit will create custom advertising programs for brands like McDonalds, Warner Brothers, Campbell's and others, letting them promote their products and services inside Rovio games.

Last month, Rovio unveiled Rovio Stars, a new game publishing program promoting mobile titles from third-party developers. The first title to be launched through the initiative is Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage from Nitrome Ltd., expected to ship later this year.

For more:
- read this release
- read this TechCrunch article

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Rovio doubles revenues in 2012, total game downloads eclipse 1.7B
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