Warner Music Group has delayed a plan to kick off its IPO this week due to concerns over the coronavirus, according to Reuters, which cites “people familiar with the matter.” Fashion company Cole Haan also postponed its plans, according to the report. The companies made the decision after the S&P 500 Index lost close to 12% of its value last week, although stocks resurged on Monday.
According to the report, the company “hoped to communicate to the market their targeted price ranges for their shares and begin formal meetings with potential IPO investors on Monday,” adding that “the companies have now put these plans on ice until the market improves.”
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Reps for Warner Music did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment or confirmation.
The virus has begun to complicate plans for companies that hoped to complete their IPOs, before the 2020 presidential election complicates virtually everything.
The Reuters report says, “When it presses ahead, Warner Music is set to be one of the year’s larger IPOs, raising in excess of $1 billion, sources said. The company is not in an urgent need to go public with the entirety of proceeds from the IPO going to current investors and not to the company.”
With Universal Music Group recently valued at $33 billion — as part of its agreement to sell 10% of itself to a consortium led by Chinese tech giant Tencent — it is not surprising that Warner would test the waters. Still, its move came less than six weeks after UMG closed the Tencent deal, catching many observers, and even many of its senior executives, off guard.
The inspiration for this move is not hard to deduce: Universal, the world’s largest music company, was valued by Goldman Sachs at $23.5 billion in August of 2017 — $10 billion less than its current value, and nearly five times what it was worth in 2013. The other major label, Sony Music, is currently inextricably part of the larger Sony Corporation, making a straight music play inapplicable at this time.
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