On June 15, 2021, Keywords Studios announced that Andrew Day would step down from his role as CEO and Board director “with immediate effect.” According to the company, Day decided to “bring forward a longer term retirement plan” following a leave of absence due to health reasons.
To ensure a smooth transition, Day will make himself “available to the Board for an initial period of six months in an advisory capacity,” the same announcement said.
The gaming giant further stated that Jon Hauck (CFO) and Sonia Sedler (COO) will serve as joint interim CEOs as Keywords searches for its next leader.
Keywords Studios Chairman, Ross Graham, pointed out that “the Group has continued to perform strongly” under Hauck and Sedler, even as it scaled with the recent acquisitions of Tantalus Media and Climax Studios, the company said.
Graham added that Keywords is well positioned to grow “both organically and through selective acquisitions from a healthy pipeline of opportunities,” which the company is now reviewing.
Projected Growth Despite Operational Constraints
UK-listed and based in Ireland, Keywords currently operates seven business lines of which only three involve localization-related activities. These three units — Localization, Localization Testing, and Audio Services — contributed about 30% to top-line revenues, according to the company’s financial results for FY20 (SlatorPro).
Revenues for the 12 months to December 31, 2020 stood at EUR 373.5m (USD 442.0m), up 14.4% from 2019; and Keywords grew 11.7% on an organic basis during the year.
Localization was the only business unit that declined in 2020, “as production schedules further upstream were disrupted at some of our clients,” as reported by Slator (Pro). The segment returned to growth in H2 2020 and, ultimately, contributed 12.2% to FY 2020 revenues.
In a trading update accompanying the news of Day’s retirement, Keywords noted the “very good start” to 2021 continuing from the momentum of H2 2020. Total revenue for the first four months of the current year was up 36%, representing 25% growth on an organic basis, excluding any impact from currency movements and acquisitions.
“This strong revenue growth, despite some continued operational constraints from Covid-19, has also supported good margin delivery,” the company said.
The same update stated, “This trading momentum is expected to continue, albeit with growth rates moderating against stronger H2 2020 comparatives, and the Board fully expects that the Group will deliver against market expectations for the full year.”
Keywords will release another trading update for the half year to June 30, 2021 this coming August.
The same announcement ended with Andrew Day’s shoutout to Keywordians: “It has been a huge honour to lead the wonderful Keywordians around the world. Whilst my recent health scare has brought about a reassessment of my priorities and brought forward a retirement that I was otherwise looking forward to in the coming few years, I am pleased to be leaving the Group in such a strong position to continue to deliver on its proven strategy.”
As a parting shot, Day expressed his confidence that Keywords Studios would “continue its march of delivering high quality growth both organically and from acquisitions of the type that has taken us from IPO in 2013 with a market capitalisation £50m to c. £2bn today.”
Continue to track Keywords’ market performance via Slator’s Real-Time Charts of Listed LSPs (Pro).