By Greg Roumeliotis and Liana B. Baker
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Music streaming service Spotify has filed confidentially with U.S. regulators for an initial public offering and is targeting a direct listing in the first half of 2018 that would allow some longtime investors to cash out, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
If Spotify, which was valued at as much as $19 billion last year, goes ahead with its plans, it would be the first major company to carry out a direct listing, an unconventional way to pursue an IPO without raising new capital.
A direct listing mainly eliminates the need for a Wall Street bank or broker to underwrite an IPO along with many associated fees and could change the way companies approach selling shares to the public.
The confidential filing was initially reported by news outlet Axios.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission now allows all companies, regardless of revenue, to file a draft IPO registration statement confidentially before they unveil their financials.
Spotify is the biggest global music streaming company and counts Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) as its main rivals. Reuters had previously reported Spotify was aiming to file for an IPO in late 2017 and list with the New York Stock Exchange early this year.
Spotify declined to comment.
Spotify was sued by Wixen Music Publishing Inc last week for allegedly using thousands of songs without a license and compensation to the music publisher. Wixen is seeking damages worth at least $1.6 billion.
Spotify intends to proceed with a U.S. direct listing in the first half of 2018 despite the lawsuit, according to a source familiar with the matter. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co are helping arrange the listing, the source added.
The lawsuit is unlikely to have a major impact on Spotify’s IPO, said Luke DeMarte, a copyright lawyer at Michael Best & Friedrich not involved. DeMarte said he expects Wixen to settle its case for far less than the damages it is seeking and that it is unlikely any of the publisher lawsuits go to trial.
“It is not in Wixen’s interests or its constituents’ interests to stop Spotify or really inflict harm on them because it is the main game in town for streaming," DeMarte said.
The company said in June it had more than 140 million active users while listing more than 30 million songs. Spotify last reported more than 60 million paid users, twice that of Apple Music, its closest rival.
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Liana B. Baker in San Francisco; additional reporting by Olof Swahnberg in Stockholm and Jan Wolfe in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)