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Warner Music prices IPO at $25 a share, values company at $12.75 billion

Warner Music Group priced its initial public offering at $25 per share, valuing the record label, which represents the likes of Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Cardi B., at an eye-popping $12.75 billion.

The music giant headed by Chief Executive Lucian Grainge, which is the parent of labels including Atlantic Records, Warner Records and Elektra Records, said its shares will start trading on Nasdaq under the symbol “WMG” on Wednesday, kicking off one of the biggest IPOs of the year.

All of the shares being sold are being offered by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s holding companies Access Industries and AI Entertainment Holdings, which will receive all the revenue from the $1.925 billion stock sale with none of the proceeds going to Warner Music.

Blavatnik and other insiders will still retain an additional 433 million class B shares, of which the investment banks underwriting the stock offering have a 30-day option to purchase an additional 11.55 million shares, the company said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese tech giant Tencent was in talks to grab a $200 million stake in the company ahead of the IPO, making it an anchor investor. But, with two classes of shares, Warner Music, will be classified as a controlled company, meaning that Class A shareholders will have little to no influence on how the company is run.

Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs are the lead underwriters for the offering, with the sale of shares being offered through a syndication of investment banks.

Warner Music is among a handful of companies thriving during the coronavirus crisis, as more consumers are streaming music than ever.

In a regulatory filing last week, the company said that in April, at the height of the pandemic, its streaming revenue actually grew 12 percent to $183 million, and its publishing digital revenue improved by $3 million to $22 million compared to April 2019.

Warner Music reported net income of $258 million in fiscal 2019 on revenue of $4.48 billion, as recorded music generated $3.84 billion, or 86 percent of total revenues. The publishing arm, Warner Chappell Music, which has a catalog of more than 1.4 million copyrights, including from songwriters Twenty One Pilots, Lizzo and Katy Perry, generated $643 million of revenue in the latest year, or 14 percent of total revenue.

Blavatnik, a Ukrainian American who has a net worth estimated at $23.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, bought Warner Music for $3.3 billion in 2011 when the music industry was in the midst of a 15-year slump.

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