Music publishing giant Warner Music Group is rejoining the public stock market after nine years under private ownership. The company filed an S-1 to announce its intent to go public in February, then withdrew that offering as the COVID-19 crisis turned the markets upside down. Warner Music is back with a fresh S-1 filing today, planning to sell as many as 80.5 million Class A shares at a launch price between $23 and $26 per share.

Private investors buy low, sell high

The stock offering involves 70 million shares currently held by private investment firm Access Industries, which has held 100% of Warner Music's equity since acquiring the company for $3.3 billion in 2011.

A hundred dollar bill sitting on a mixing board.

Image source: Getty Images.

Access Industries is taking home $1.6 billion at the bottom end of that range, or as much as $2.1 billion if the underwriting banks take full advantage of their option to grab another 10.5 million shares.

Voting power will remain firmly in the hands of Access Industries, whose 440 million Class B shares will stay entirely in the group's control and represent at least 99.1% of the company's total votes. The publicly traded shares also represent just roughly 16% of the economic interests in Warner Music, so the market cap should land between $11.8 billion and $13.2 billion at launch.

The company collected revenue of $4.5 billion last year, generating $258 million of net profit and $425 million in operating cash flows. Warner Music held a 16% global share of the recorded music market in 2018, trailing only Vivendi's (OTC:VIVHY) Universal Music Group at 30% and Sony's (NYSE:SONY) Sony Music at 21%.

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