Warner Music’s upsized IPO raises US$1.9 bil in biggest US listing this year

NEW YORK: Warner Music Group Corp, the world’s third-largest recording label, said on Wednesday it sold more shares than earlier planned to raise US$1.93 billion in the biggest US listing so far in 2020.

Warner, which has been home to music legends including Pink Floyd, Prince and David Bowie, planned to price the IPO on Tuesday, but postponed it by a day to mark #BlackOutTuesday, a social media event to show support for racial justice.

The company increased the offering to 77 million class A shares at US$25 per share, valuing it at US$12.75 billion. It had initially proposed to offer 70 million shares, and had set a target range of US$23-US$26 per share for the IPO.

The entire offering comprises of existing investors selling stock.

Warner has seen a 12% jump in its recorded music streaming revenue for April, fueled by new releases including Grammy-winning artist Dua Lipa’s latest album, “Future Nostalgia”.

The record label also has Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and next-generation stars such as Lizzo and Charli XCX on its roster.

Warner’s upsized offering points to improving appetite for new issues, which came to a halt in March as stocks plunged following the coronavirus pandemic.

The music industry is seen as more resilient to weakness in the broader economy, though Warner Music has cautioned that the outbreak has hurt physical revenue streams and delayed the release of new recordings, movies and television programmes.

Warner Music, majority-owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, posted a net loss of US$74 million in the second quarter, compared with a profit of US$67 million a year earlier. It has a total debt of US$2.98 billion.

With companies and investors unable to meet in person due to the outbreak, Warner is the latest firm to complete its IPO through a virtual roadshow.