Warner Music set for US stock market flotation

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Warner Music Group, home to a host of stars including Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry, plans to sell shares in the US.

Billionaire Sir Len Blavatnik bought the company for $3.3bn (£2.5bn) in 2011, when the industry was in the depths of a multi-year slump.

He looks set for a major windfall as music sales have jumped in recent years.

The growth in demand has been helped by the rapid rise of paid streaming services such as Spotify and Apple.

This has boosted the value of music companies, attracting more investors back to the record industry.

Warner Music has filed a notice of its plans to float with regulators but has not said when it could list on the stock market nor how much of the company might be sold.

It has been estimated that Warner Music could now be worth around $6bn, roughly double what it sold for less than a decade ago.

Last year, rival Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, was valued at more than $33bn after media group Vivendi sold a minority share of it to a group led by China’s Tencent.

In contrast to other recent high-profile stock market listings, Warner Music is profitable, reporting net income last year of $256m.

Warner Music includes some of the world’s biggest record labels including Warner, Atlantic, Elektra, and Parlophone. Across its roster of labels, the company also counts Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, and Cardi B amongst its artists.

The firm also owns Warner Chappell, one of the world’s largest music publishers, which has more than 1.4m copyrights. While recorded music makes up the vast majority of Warner Music’s income, publishing is a more profitable and stable business.

Ukraine-born Mr Blavatnik now has joint UK-US citizenship and received a knighthood in 2017 for services to philanthropy.

He sold a stake in Russian oil company TNK-BP for $7bn in 2013, and he now has a net worth of more than $25bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.


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