Deering joins ‘new’ Coders

In a massive coup for the Britsoft publisher, the former Sony Europe boss joins as private equity firm Benchmark Capital increases its stake to 68 per cent, accelerating the push towards floating or selling-off the firm.

Highly respected across the business, Deering (main pic) founded SCEE in 1995 and masterminded the astonishing success of PSOne and PS2 in PAL territories, retiring last year.

“You couldn’t get any better,” CEO Rod Cousens told MCV. “There’s a football term – ‘The Special One’ – pointed at Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Well, if you look at the games industry, Chris Deering is the Special One.

“I view him as special on a global basis in the video games business,” Cousens added. “It’s not restricted to Europe. His standing in the world market has no equal – we wanted the best; we got the best.”

Meanwhile, Benchmark, which invested heavily in the UK firm last year, upped its stake by 30 per cent as company founders, the Darlings, relinquished their majority hold. At the same time, Cousens has acquired a 1.5 per cent stake.

Cousens, however, insisted that brothers David and Richard and father Jim would still play key roles in the company moving forwards. “I believe they’re keen to put the company to the fore of everything else and they recognise that with additional investment from Benchmark, it has a much better chance of competing than ever before,” he said. “I think they felt it was time they  reduced their shareholding as a consequence.”

The extra investment will be used to build operations in the US and help achieve the firm’s goal of an IPO or outright sale. “The strategy doesn’t change – the timing, if anything, could be accelerated,” Cousens added.

“We’re outperforming expectations and obviously we know that the context of having a public vehicle in which to add to our future growth ambitions is a critical aspect. And in terms of a sale, it’s all valuation, and I think this is a highly valuable entity which would command an incredible premium.

“This is a rising company, in a rising market on a rising curve, so I would think sooner rather than later. People are surprised, I suspect, by what were doing, but it’s happening.”

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