Game returning to the London Stock Exchange

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GAME IS returning to London’s main stock exchange just two years after the video gaming retailer was delisted as it collapsed into administration.

The swift turnaround comes after administrators and its new owners shut around half of the outlets to scale back a costly store base which, coupled with heavy competition from online rivals, helped lead to its demise.

The listing of a stake of at least 35 per cent before the end of June is expected to value the company, which now has 327 stores in the UK and 233 in Spain where it did not file for administration, at around £400m.

“The turnaround of the Game business is remarkable,” said its chairman David Hamid. “Game in the UK has been transformed and strengthened, while Game in Spain has proved its resilience.”

The company, to be renamed Game Digital for the initial public offering (IPO), made £50.8m in underlying earnings in the six months to the end of January, which is double the £24.5m it made the year before, on revenues of £586.4 million.

It will also be debt-free when the IPO is launched, after reportedly owing creditors around £180m when it filed for administration in March 2012.

Hedge fund Elliott Advisors, which owns more than 90 per cent of Game after backing a rescue deal led by private equity firm OpCapita, plans to retain a significant stake in the business.

Game’s market for new and pre-owned gaming products faces growing competition from online players such as Amazon.

But the company said a focus on training staff and customer loyalty programmes, as well as leveraging on its brand heritage, has helped it adapt to the ever-changing retail landscape.

It claims to have around a third of the market for new video game content, hardware and accessories in both the UK and Spain.

The group also sees growing opportunity in the sale of pre-owned content.

According to consultants OC&C, it had a 39 per cent share of the pre-owned physical content market in 2013.

Game chief executive Martyn Gibbs said: “The business is now well set to capitalise on the growing market for gaming content.”