China's Tencent Music seeks $2 billion in U.S. IPO: sources

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tencent Music Entertainment Group, China’s biggest music-streaming company, is seeking to raise about $2 billion in a U.S. listing, according to three people close to the deal, down from the up to $4 billion that had been touted earlier.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors use their smartphones underneath the logo of Tencent at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The subsidiary of Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings filed confidentially with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) two weeks ago, three people with knowledge of the matter said, in what will be one of the biggest listings in New York by a Chinese company this year.

Tencent Music had earlier been seeking to raise between $3 billion and $4 billion, Thomson Reuters publication IFR reported, which would have made it the biggest Chinese float in the United States so far in 2018, ahead of streaming company iQiyi’s $2.42 billion IPO in March.

The company then was seeking a valuation of about $25 billion, according to IFR. The sources did not disclose whether the now smaller deal related to a lower valuation or fewer shares to be sold.

Tencent said in a statement in Chinese the Reuters report was not accurate. It did not elaborate or say which part of the report was inaccurate. “Please refer to official statements or announcements by the company for facts relating to the proposed offering,” it said.

Tencent Music runs the music service providers QQ Music, KuGou and Kuwo, controlling three-quarters of China’s booming music streaming market.

Users can listen to both Chinese and international artists such as Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars.

The filing was submitted to the SEC on Sept. 7, according to two of the people close to the deal.

The sources declined to be named because the information was not public.

The rapid growth in streaming music services in recent years has led to a recovery in the fortunes of the global recorded music industry, which enjoyed its third year of positive revenue growth in 2017, according to a report by industry body IFPI.

Tencent Music’s float follows that by Swedish music streaming service Spotify earlier this year as online streaming becomes a bigger part of the recording industry’s revenue.

In December last year, Tencent and Spotify agreed a share swap after which Tencent ended up with a 7.5 percent stake in Spotify, including shares held through Tencent Music, according to the prospectus filed by Spotify ahead of its own IPO in April.

Tencent Music will be the latest in a series of Chinese companies to have tapped U.S. markets this year. Other groups to have held IPOs include electric vehicle start-up NIO Inc - which raised $1 billion - and online group discounter Pinduoduo, which raised $1.63 billion.

Reporting by Julia Fioretti and Julie Zhu in HONG KONG, and Joshua Franklin in NEW YORK; Additional reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Stephen Coates and Adrian Croft