Music streaming service Spotify on Wednesday filed for a direct listing of its shares, taking an unusual path to the US public markets for a large company, Reuters reports.
A direct listing will let Spotify list existing shares, owned by its investors and employees, without raising new capital or hiring a Wall Street bank or broker to underwrite the offering.
The company did not specify a listing price for its shares in the filing or say how much it would list. It is valued at roughly US$19 billion, according to Reuters calculations based on the filing.
Spotify, launched in 2008 and available in more than 60 countries, is the biggest music streaming company in the world and counts services from Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. as its main rivals.
Revenue for Spotify was 4.09 billion euros (US$4.99 billion) in 2017, up from 2.95 billion euros a year earlier, the company said in the filing. Its operating loss widened to 378 million euros in 2017 from 349 million euros a year earlier.
Its net loss, however, ballooned 129 percent in 2017, driven mostly by on-paper financing costs related to a 2016 deal in which Sweden-based Spotify raised US$1 billion in debt that would convert to shares upon an initial public offering.
In its filing, the company said it has 71 million premium subscribers and about 159 million monthly average users.
Apple Music launched in 2015 and has 36 million paying subscribers and Amazon Music Unlimited has 16 million paying subscribers. Pandora Media Inc. has 5.48 million total subscribers, according to the company.
Spotify’s premium subscription costs US$9.99 a month. Apple Music charges the same but offers a three-month free trial. Unlike Spotify, Apple does not have an advertising-based free service.
“With our ad-supported service, we believe there is a large opportunity to grow users and gain market share from traditional terrestrial radio,” Spotify said.
The company is valued at between US$16.8 billion and US$22.5 billion, based on recent ordinary share prices between US$95 and US$127.50 in the private markets in February and 178 billion shares estimated outstanding by the end of February, according to its filing.
In December, Spotify and the music arm of China’s Tencent Holdings said they would buy minority stakes in each other.
According to Spotify’s filings, that exchange was part of a larger series of deals with its note holders that would allow a direct listing instead of a public offering satisfy the conditions of its convertible debt. Tencent agreed not to transfer its shares for three years.
Besides saving hundreds of millions of dollars in underwriting fees, a direct listing frees company insiders from any lockup period restricting them from selling their shares following the listing.
A direct listing does not dilute ownership as would happen with a conventional initial public offering.
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