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UPDATE 1-Gaming site Roblox valued at $30 bln, plans direct listing

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Jan 6 (Reuters) - Roblox Corp said on Wednesday it aims to go public through a direct listing, instead of an initial public offering (IPO) as originally planned, and has raised new funding in a deal that values the U.S. gaming platform at nearly $30 billion.

In a statement, Roblox said it had raised around $520 million in a new Series H private fundraising round led by Altimeter Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group.

The funding round valued Roblox at $29.5 billion, more than seven times the $4 billion the company was valued at in its Series G round 11 months ago.

San Mateo, California-based Roblox is among the world’s most popular gaming sites for children and offers a host of games across mobile devices and games consoles.

U.S. demand for video games has surged as consumers seek home entertainment while living under lockdown measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Roblox’s plans to switch to a direct listing was reported earlier by Reuters.

The move comes after Roblox told employees last month it had put off its planned IPO until 2021 as it worked with advisers to improve the process to benefit employees and investors.

In a direct listing, no shares are sold in advance, as is the case with IPOs. The company’s share price in its market debut is determined by orders coming into the stock exchange. Advocates argue it is a better to way to price new stock than an IPO.

Roblox would be the fifth high-profile company to go public through a direct listing, following the likes of music streaming service Spotify Technology SA and data analytics firm Palantir Technologies.

Unlike in an IPO, companies have not traditionally raised any money through direct listings.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in Miami and Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by David Gregorio and Richard Pullin

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