Business briefs

  • Updated: March 24, 2014 - 8:53 PM

Candy Crush is coming to Wall Street

King Digital, the company behind the wildly mobile game “Candy Crush Saga,” is scheduled to make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange this week. The company could be valued as high as $7.6 billion if its initial public offering prices at $24 per share, the upper end of its expected range. That’s nearly twice as much as its closest rival Zynga Inc., the creator of “FarmVille.” Unlike Zynga, however, King is profitable and has less than a third of Zynga’s employee base. The company is offering 15.5 million shares. Existing shareholders are offering another 6.7 million. King expects proceeds of $326 million from the IPO. King, based in Dublin, Ireland, generated revenue of $1.88 billion last year. That’s more than 10 times its 2012 revenue of $164.4 million. Zynga’s 2013 revenue was $873.3 million.

Herbalife boosting ties with Icahn

Herbalife, strengthening ties with the company’s biggest investor amid a federal probe into its business practices, forged an agreement with billionaire Carl Icahn that will add three directors to the board. Herbalife will nominate Hunter Gary, Jesse Lynn and James Nelson to the board at its annual general meeting scheduled for April 29, the company said Monday in a statement. Icahn and related companies own about 16.8 percent of Herbalife’s stock, and will control a total of five of 13 board members if the nominees are approved. “This is a very positive agreement and we appreciate the Icahn parties’ shared confidence in Herbalife’s continued success,” Michael Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer, said. Herbalife shares have fallen 18 percent since the company disclosed on March 12 that the Federal Trade Commission had begun a civil probe into its practices. Hedge-fund manager Bill Ackman has pressed federal regulators to shut down the maker of weight-loss shakes and skin creams, saying it misleads distributors, misrepresents sales figures and sells a commodity product at inflated prices.

JPMorgan Chase exec in China quits

One of JPMorgan Chase’s top dealmakers in China and a focus of the U.S. government’s investigation into the bank’s hiring practices in China is leaving the bank, according to an internal memo sent to staff on Monday. Fang Fang, who has spent more than a decade at JPMorgan, most recently as the bank’s chief executive for China investment banking and a vice chairman for Asia investment banking, had recently “informed us of his desire to retire,” Therese Esperdy, JPMorgan’s co-head of banking for Asia-Pacific, said in the memo. Since last year, JPMorgan has been the subject of a federal bribery investigation in the United States that is looking into whether the bank’s “Sons and Daughters” hiring program violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by linking the employment of the children of senior Chinese officials and business leaders to winning roles on specific investment banking deals. Fang, who is in his late 40s, was one of several JPMorgan executives whose e-mails discussing hiring practices were turned over to the authorities by the bank. In one of them, he wrote: “You all know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters program — it almost has a linear relationship” with winning assignments to advise Chinese companies. Neither Fang nor any JPMorgan executives have been accused of wrongdoing as a result of the U.S. investigation.

Disney picks leader for TV group

The Walt Disney Co. acted quickly to put a new top executive in place at its ABC Television Group, naming Ben Sherwood on Monday to succeed Anne Sweeney, who announced her resignation two weeks ago. Sherwood has been one of the most talked-about executives in the television business because of his much-praised stewardship at ABC News, highlighted by the dogged rise of “Good Morning America” to the top of the most profitable area of network news, morning television. The show had trailed NBC’s “Today” for 16 years. Robert Iger, the Disney chairman, made the announcement on Monday. Sherwood had been widely viewed as a likely choice for the job, which also includes the title of co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. Disney said the effective date of the appointment was Feb. 1, 2015.

Cisco investing $1B in cloud computing

Cisco says it plans to spend more than $1 billion over the next two years to build up its cloud computing network. Cisco plans to use the money to expand its data centers for the new service to be called Cisco Cloud Services. The move makes the San Jose, Calif.-based networking company the latest to enter an arena that caters to the growing number of companies that would rather rent computing space than build their own. One of the biggest players in the market is Amazon.com. IBM Corp. said in January that it will invest $1.2B in its cloud computing operations. Cisco says it will work with a set of partners to build up the network.

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