Balderton Capital, the former European division of US venture firm Benchmark Capital, has completed its first deal since finalising its spin-out last week, by upping its stake in Codemasters, Europe’s largest independent video game developer.
Balderton, which already owned a 70 percent stake in Codemasters, has acquired the remaining 30 percent from the Darling family, the founders of the company, while Goldman Sachs is providing a financing facility of £50 million to support the company’s growth.
The move is intended to tidy up the company’s ownership structure ahead of a possible flotation in the next year, according to a market source.
Balderton – then known as Benchmark Europe – first bought a 40 percent stake in 2005, and increased this to 70 percent a year later.
During this time, Codemasters has taken some significant steps, signing a deal with Warner Bros for distribution of its games in the US and making two senior level appointments – Rod Cousens, formerly chief executive of US rival Acclaim, was brought in as chief executive, while former Sony Europe president Chris Deering was appointed non-executive chairman.
The company will now be wholly owned by Balderton, which has previously backed European success stories like Bebo and Betfair, and the company’s management, although Goldman’s financing package involves a debt instrument that will give it some options over the company’s equity. It will also leave the bank in pole position to pick up an advisory mandate if the company chooses to go ahead with a flotation.