Remedy Entertainment’s CEO Tero Virtala and chairman Markus Mäki have sold company shares just days before the developer’s next major game release – Control.
Both of the company bosses sold their shares a day before the company’s stock value began to fall.
The news comes via Finnish news website Helsingin Sanomat (The Helsinki Message). Initially they interviewed Virtala on August 19th, regarding Control‘s budget of “€20-30 million,” and on the CEO’s uplifting outlook on the project. “Let’s just say we have a positive, enthusiastic atmosphere.”
On August 23rd, Helsingin Sanomat state that Virtala and Mäki had sold 170,000 shares on August 21st- six days ahead of Control‘s August 27th release, and two days after the interview. Specifically, they state Virtala sold 20,000 shares at an average of €12.53 (totaling over €250,000 in total), While Mäki sold 150,000 at €12.50 on average (€1.875 million).
Helsingin Sanomat state this was announced by management the same day. While uncited in the article, these can be found via Globe News Wire [1, 2]. We have also discovered a third financial announcement the same day. This is seemingly “S.à r.l. Ferdinand” selling €5,000 shares for an average of €12.02 each (over €60,000). They are marked as “A person belonging to a related party” and marked as a “legal person”.
Globe News Wire have handled Remedy’s financial announcements before. The news feed on Remedy’s official website for investor relations (Releases and Publications) announced their semi-annual financial report released on August 13th via Globe News Wire. It did announce list the three announcements made on August 23rd, with the financial report being the most recent announcement.
The financial report made note of how vital Control is to the company’s financial success:
“Based on its growth strategy and to enable frequent game releases in the future, the Company will continue working on Smilegate-owned Crossfire and on three game brands that are owned and significantly financed by Remedy. Control is the first one of these games to launch on 27 August 2019 and its success will have a significant impact on the Company’s result during the second half of 2019.”
Respawn’s shares over the past month began to rise to its highest point in the company’s history. This occurred after the financial report was released- reaching its peak on August 21st at €12.50 a share (the same day the stocks were sold). After this, it is shown to decline to €11.55 a share by August 23rd (after which the market is closed during the weekend)- a fall of 7.6% since its peak.
Helsingin Sanomat approached Virtala for comment, with Virtala dismissing the significance of the sales:
“We had not sold any shares in two years. The idea was that now the sales window is open after the half year report.
Everyone has seen the reception of the new game being good, but now we don’t have a complete idea of what pre-orders are. We have certain perceptions of the selected market and we wanted to say it openly.”
When asked why he did not sell stocks immediately after the financial report, Virtala stated “Our trading volume is not big. There was a perception that this week there would be a willingness to buy such quantities of what is being sold, so it was now on sale.” When asked why they sold after the game’s advertising campaign, Virtala then stated “We have PR campaigns all the time. It started as early as mid-June, after which we have visited our international media office.”
Helsingin Sanomat’s probing continued, asking “Should you have waited now for stock sales until the game was released?” Virtala responded “The game will be released on Tuesday, and once the majority of sales are on digital channels, we will then have a clear idea of what sales are and what can be anticipated on a daily basis. We felt that it was no longer a good time to sell.”
Helsingin Sanomat then asked “Do you think everything went according to the law?”
“Yes, I understand that questions of this type may arise. Our point of view was that we hadn’t sold for two years, and now between the announcement of the results and the publication of the game, there was an opportunity to sell.”
Finally, Helsingin Sanomat inquired if investors are “drawing conclusions” since the share’s value fell after the sale of the stocks. Virtala replied “That’s what I can’t say. I still have 95% of my Remedy ownership, Markus is probably 96%.”
This is most likely referring to how much of their shares are remaining after the sale (selling 5% and 4% of what they owned), rather than their share percentage of the company. This is currently 28.6% for Mäki (3.447 million shares), and 3.1% for Virtala (370,000 shares).
While signs may point to insider trading, and even releasing a glamorized financial report to increase the value of shares artificially, we are awaiting to see what actions will be taken by Finnish authorities. We will keep you informed as we learn more.
In case you missed it, we reported on Star Breeze Studio’s HQ being raided after allegations of insider trading.
Control is launching across Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on August 27th. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!