Warner Music Group, one of the “big three” U.S. record labels, was trading up by more than 19.5% after debuting on the Nasdaq exchange this morning. The firm priced 77 million shares at $25 and trading opened at $27, making it the biggest U.S. listing of 2020. The share price then rose above $29 per share.
Warner Music, trading under the ticker symbol WMG, owns Atlantic and Warner Records and houses megastars such as Madonna and Ed Sheeran. The group’s owner, billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, originally planned for an earlier debut this year, but the firm put the stock sale on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. The public-health crisis hasn’t gone away, but the IPO arrived nonetheless, with Warner Music boss Stephen Cooper saying, “We concluded that there was sufficient market momentum. Without ever trying to time the market this looked like a good time to go.”
Access Industries has owned Warner Music since 2011, when it bought the group for $3.3 billion and pulled it off the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier today, Warner Music was valued at $12.75 billion when it started trading at $25 per share.
The stock sale immediately follows Blackout Tuesday, an initiative that called on music industry leaders to pause work for a day and “protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy,” organizers Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, both executives in the music business, said in a statement.