Warner Music raises $1.9 billion in initial public offering

Warner Music raises $1.9 billion in initial public offering

Warner Music Group Inc.’s shareholders have raised $1.93 billion in an upsized initial public offering that ranks as one of the biggest US listings this year.

Investors in the company sold 77 million shares at $25 apiece, above the midpoint of a marketed range, Warner Music said in a press release Wednesday. The company’s backers were earlier marketing a sale of 70 million shares at $23 to $26 each.

The listing signals the renewed strength of US offerings after a hiatus brought on by the pandemic. With homebound consumers looking for entertainment, the New York-based company’s emphasis on streaming revenue has resonated with investors.

Entities controlled by majority owner Len Blavatnik and current executives are sellers in the stock sale and Warner Music will not receive any proceeds, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Blavatnik, through Access Industries LLC, will hold Class B shares and retain about 99 percent voting power in Warner Music after the offering, the filing shows.

Warner Music and its shareholders delayed the IPO pricing by one day to avoid selling shares on “Blackout Tuesday,” which saw entertainers and celebrities call for online musical performances and related events to be canceled to show support for the protests across the US against police brutality, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Warner Music and Blavatnik’s family foundation on Wednesday launched a $100 million fund to support charitable causes related to the music industry, social justice and campaigns against violence and racism, according to a separate press release.

Warner Music’s catalog covers a sprawling range of artists, from Lizzo, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran to Coldplay, Prince and Neil Young. Its roadshow presentation included screenshots of quarantine concerts streamed on Instagram Live, as well as popular clips on TikTok.

The offering is being led by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The shares are expected to begin trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol WMG.

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