Vancouver’s East Side Games aims to go public in $150m deal

East Side Games co-founder Josh Nilson | Photo: Chung Chow, BIV

What happened: East Side Games, Leaf Mobile agree to acquisition deal

Why it matters: Both are Vancouver-based companies and if the deal goes through, it will see the firm listed on the TSX

One of the most high-profile independent gaming studios on the West Coast is getting a power-up in the form of a $150-million acquisition that aims to take it public.

Privately owned East Side Games (ESG) is navigating a reverse takeover with fellow Vancouver gaming company Leaf Mobile Inc. (TSXV:LEAF) that will pay out $50 million in cash and the remainder in the form of stock.

Leaf Mobile is currently listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and completion of the acquisition is conditional on the Toronto Stock Exchange allowing the gaming company to list on the senior market.

ESG currently owns more than 20% of Leaf’s shares.

And beyond the West Coast and financial connections, both companies specialize in mobile gaming that share some common cannabis-related themes.

ESG is known for titles such as Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Moneyand Pot Farm, while Leaf Mobile has produced the likes of Cheech & Chong Bud Farm.

If the acquisition deal goes through, changes to the corporate makeup will be in store for the company.

Leaf CEO Darcy Taylor and chief financial officer Mark Leung will stick around in their current roles, while ESG co-founder and chairman Jason Bailey will become Leaf’s chief revenue officer.

The deal remains subject to shareholder approval.

ESG is not the only West Coast company with its eyes on going public this week.

On Thursday (October 8), BBTV Holdings Inc. released a prospectus as part of its bid to raise $172 million through a traditional initial public offering.

The holding company's goal is to use the proceeds to buy out Vancouver-based BroadbandTV Corp., which is majority owned by Luxembourg’s RTL Group.

The European media company, a subsidiary of Germany’s Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, delivered a $36 million investment to BBTV in 2013 in exchange for a 51% stake.

BBTV controls the remaining 49% of BroadbandTV, which is best known for developing a platform that helps create, distribute and monetize video content for online consumption.

Shahrzad Rafati is CEO and a director of both BBTV and BroadbandTV.

If the IPO is successful, she would gain great control over the company she founded in 2005.