By Anne Steele 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (February 7, 2020).

Access Industries Inc.'s Warner Music Group Corp. filed documents to sell shares to the public amid a streaming-fueled resurgence in the music industry.

The third-largest music company's decision to pursue an IPO comes after Vivendi SA sold a 10% stake in Universal Music Group to Tencent Holdings Ltd. for EUR3 billion ($3.36 billion), valuing the world's largest music company at over $33 billion.

Access, owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik, is to retain voting control of Warner Music, according to the company's filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Russian-born business magnate bought Warner Music Group in 2011 for $3.3 billion. It was previously controlled by a trio of private-equity firms -- Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners -- together with the company's then-chief executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., who bought the company from what was then Time Warner Inc. in 2004 for $2.6 billion.

Warner Music's labels include Elektra Records, Atlantic Records and its flagship Warner Records. It also owns Warner Chappell Music, the third-largest music publisher. Its roster of artists includes Ed Sheeran, Lizzo, Madonna, Metallica and Neil Young.

The fortunes of record companies -- Warner and Universal together with Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment round out the "big three" with control of some 80% of the market -- have been resuscitated in recent years thanks the rise of music-streaming services such as Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc.'s Apple Music. While revenue from recorded music remains below its CD-fueled peak in 2000, it has been on the rise since 2016 following more than a decade of declines due to piracy.

In 2018, the last full year of available data, world-wide recorded music revenue totaled $19.1 billion. Goldman Sachs estimates the market will hit $45 billion by 2030, primarily on the strength of subscriptions to streaming services.

Write to Anne Steele at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 07, 2020 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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