Warner Music Group Sets IPO Price for Biggest U.S. Stock Launch of 2020

Len Blavatnik
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Warner Music

Len Blavatnik attends the Warner Music Pre-Grammy Party at the NoMad Hotel on Feb. 7, 2019 in Los Angeles.

Warner Music Group is expected to officially begin trading later this morning on the Nasdaq exchange with its initial public offering carrying a $25 per-share price, which means that the company is realizing an equity valuation of $12.75 billion.

That will make it the largest stock offering so far this year, and according to press reports in financial and business news publications, it instills hope among Wall Street traders that the WMG offering will help break the dam and bring forth more stock offerings in a market so far this year chilled by the global pandemic.

Press reports further suggest that the stock was expected to debut yesterday on Tuesday, but was delayed due to the music industry wide blackout whereby music companies stopped working in support of protests over the death of George Floyd.

All of the shares being sold are being offered by two entities — Access Industries and AI Entertainment Holdings — controlled by Len Blavatnik, who will receive all the revenue from the $1.925 billion stock sale with none of the proceeds going to the company. Blavatnik and other insiders will still retain an additional 433 million class B shares, of which the investment banks underwriting the stock offering have a 30-day option to purchase an additional 11.55 million shares.

According to press reports. Tencent, the giant Chinese internet services and entertainment company, was expected to be an anchor investor buying a $200 million stake in the WMG IPO. Yet, with two classes of shares, WMG will be what's referred to as a controlled company, which means that the Class A shareholders will have little to no influence on how the company is run.

With the WMG stock price being announced this morning, that means that at some point after the 9:30 opening of trading, the company’s shares will be officially listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange and its shares will begin trading, with Wall Street expected to watch closely to see what price its shares will close out, up or down from the $25 per share price.

As the underwriters initially priced the offering at a $23 to $26 price range with the final $25 pricing at the upper end, that suggests that the offering was at least fully-to-possibly oversubscribed by investors, which points to plenty of demand for the shares that could mean that the stock closes at a higher price in its first day of trading. Offsetting that pricing speculation is how the stock market will react to yet another day of civil unrest.

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC are the lead underwriters for the offering, with the sale of shares being offered through a syndication of investments banks.