Warner Music Group has had a successful initial public offering (IPO) after opening up today with a valuation of $12.7 billion, with 77 million shares at $25 per share. The stock rose by 15 percent today after a few hours of trading, and was eventually valued at $15 billion. The size of its IPO rose by 7 million, as the company had previously announced the distribution of 70 million Class A stock a week ago.
New investors will not have a say in the company’s governance, meaning that Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries will remain the company’s primary owner. This sale is consisted of secondary shares sold by Access industries and related stockholders, although underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 11,550,000 shares of Class A common stock from selling stockholders.
The company registered to go public back in February, however it had delayed these plans due to the widespread COVID-19 outbreak and the ensuing shutdowns in Europe and the US. The decision to go public now comes at an urgent time for the company, who have faced $74 million in quarterly losses as a result of the pandemic.
Investors have been keeping an eye on the company’s massive artist catalog, supported by many high profile acts such as Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, along with an increase in streaming revenue, due to the pandemic. “In this quasi-stay-at-home world over the next 12-18 months, that’s a goldmine for players like Warner Music in terms of how they go after the market. As a Big Three label, with Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and others, they have a content advantage: In terms of physical sales as well as recordings, COVID has been a headwind, but for streaming, it’s been a tailwind,” Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, explained.
This announcement follows Warner Music Group’s decision to partner with Blavatnik’s Family Foundation to donate $100 million in support of social justice organizations.