Price indications point to strong Spotify NYSE launch

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Spotify Technology SA (SPOT.N) shares appeared on course for a strong debut on Tuesday, with opening indication ranges well above where the stock had been trading in its final days in private markets.

While it has yet to open, price indications posted by its primary market maker were ticking higher, with the latest 21 percent to 25 percent above the reference price of $132 a share set by the New York Stock Exchange late on Monday.

“It’s going to be higher than the reference price of $132 for sure,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York

“Then from where it trades there, we will see. Once it opens, I guess you’ll see whether that price was right or wrong,” he said.

It remains to be seen where exactly the stock will debut and whether it holds those levels in open market trading. Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, has chosen an unusual route to market, forgoing underwriters that would help stabilize its price after trading launches.

Its first day of trading comes on the heels of steep selloff in technology stocks in particular, although the market was on firmer footing at midday Tuesday.

The New York Stock Exchange set Spotify’s reference price at $132 per share late on Monday, giving an early estimate of the level at which supply and demand could be balanced.

That was in line with informal trading on Monday, with shares changing hands at about $132, which would value the company at more than $23 billion.

In February, the shares were valued at about $20 billion based on private stock transactions among existing investors.

Since launching its streaming music service a decade ago, the Stockholm-founded company has overcome heavy resistance from big record labels and some major music artists to transform how the industry makes money.

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Spotify offers access to vast libraries of music rather than making users pay for CDs or downloads of individual albums or tracks.

The company has structured the stock market listing to allow existing investors to sell directly to the public while offering no new shares of its own, in a test case being watched by other well-funded multibillion-dollar tech firms with no immediate cash-raising needs.

Forgoing hiring investment banks as underwriters or holding traditional promotional events with institutional investors could lead to extreme volatility when formal trading begins, analysts say.

Thomas Farley, NYSE president, told CNBC on Tuesday that the exchange was “in no rush” to price Spotify’s offering. He added that Spotify may not open for trading until after midday.

Spotify’s opening public price will be determined by buy and sell orders collected by the NYSE from broker-dealers, the exchange said.

Based on those orders, the opening price will be set based on a designated market maker’s determination of where buy orders can be matched with sell orders at a single price.

While Ek is skipping New York Stock Exchange rituals such as opening bell-ringing and trading floor interviews to tout the stock, the front of the 115-year-old Greek Revival exchange building has been draped in a vast green-and-black Spotify banner.

Global recorded music industry revenue in 2014 had fallen by 40 percent to $14.3 billion from $23.8 billion in 1999, when the rise of music file-sharing service Napster ravaged sales of CDs.

The industry has returned to growth since 2015 driven by streaming service revenue, which now accounts for 60 percent of recorded music sales, according to market estimates.

Additional reporting by Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm, Joshua Franklin in New York and Stephen Nellis and Salvador Rodriguez in San Francisco; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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