Business

TuneCore Owner Believe Lowers Target by 40% With €300 Million IPO

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Paris-based music distributor and artist services company Believe launched its initial public offering (IPO) on the Euronext Paris stock exchange Tuesday (June 1), although with a lower target than initially planned.

When the French financial regulatory body approved Believe's IPO registration document early last month, Believe said it planned to raise 500 million euros ($608 million). In its IPO announcement, Believe reduced that target by 40% to 300 million euros ($367 million).

Believe plans to sell a maximum of 15.4 million shares within an indicative price range of 19.50 euros to 22.50 euros per share. French investment fund Fonds Stratégique de Participations (FSP) is investing 60 million euros to participate in the IPO.

The offering begins today and is expected to close at end of trading on June 8 for shares in France and June 9 for international share transactions. Pricing of the offering will also take place on June 9, and Believe plans to start trading on the Paris Euronext on June 10, with the ticker symbol BLV.

Despite the reduced price target, Believe's IPO comes at a time when global music assets are fetching high prices. K-pop label Big Hit Entertainment, the company synonymous with boy band BTS, raised $840 million in a public offering on the South Korean stock exchange last October, and then, after naming the company HYBE,  acquired Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings for $1.05 billion in April. That followed Sony Music's purchase of Brazilian indie label Som Livre for $255 million. (Financial music executives at the time said they were stunned by the Ithaca valuation, especially after Braun and Ithaca’s financial backer, the Carlyle Group, sold the crown jewel of the Big Machine labels -- Taylor Swift's catalog -- to Shamrock Holdings for an estimated $300 million last November.)

In a statement, Believe founder and CEO Denis Ladegaillerie shared his aim for Believe to become "the global leader in developing independent artists and labels in the digital world," claiming that in the first quarter of 2021, Believe attracted the largest number of those clients since its creation.

"Over the past few weeks, we have met with a number of investors who have understood why Believe is ideally positioned to benefit from the digitalization of the music market and the rise of independent artists and labels," he said, noting the FSP. "This transaction aims to build a solid and balanced shareholder base alongside TCV, our historical long-term shareholder specializing in technology companies, at a time when Believe is accelerating its development driven by its profitable growth trajectory. It will allow us to finance our growth, in particular through targeted acquisitions."

"Developing an innovative technological platform, having the best digital expertise on the market, with local teams close to artists and independent labels to build relationships of trust with them based on respect, transparency and fairness: these are the fundamental elements serving our ambition," he continued. "Participating in this IPO, the first one of a Next 40 company, is also an investment in the success of tomorrow's artists and independent labels."

(The Next 40 is a list of French companies tipped to become leaders in the technology sector.)

Founded in 2005, Believe provides distribution to major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, digital marketing, playlist pitching, sync services and more for artists like Gavin James and FKJ. It acquired New York-based distribution company TuneCore in 2015.

Last month, Believe revealed that it provided services to more than 850,000 artists (either directly or through their labels) and recorded 728 million euros in digital music sales in 2020, up 54% from 472 million euros in 2018. In the first quarter of 2021, the company says it made 124 million euros in revenue, a 26% uptick from the first quarter of 2020.

This article was updated June 1 at 2:45 p.m. EST