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Categorized | Equities

Music streaming service Deezer aborts IPO

Posted on October 28, 2015

The Deezer music mobile app, right, sits next to the Spotify Ltd. music app on a smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Deezer is seeking funds from investors in a transaction that could value the French music-streaming service at about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), according to people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg©Bloomberg

Deezer has become the latest tech company to abort an initial public offering, after the music streaming service failed to convince stock market investors that it justified a valuation of as much as €1.1bn.

The French company, which had planned to raise €300m from the IPO, said it pulled the deal “due to market conditions”. In a brief statement, the company added that it was “well funded and well positioned as it continues to pursue its growth strategy”.

    The news comes after Digicel, the Caribbean telecoms group, scrapped its planned flotation in early October also due to lacklustre investor appetite.

    The aborted deal adds to the evidence that investors are becoming increasingly discerning about the terms of new tech listings which have been criticised for their inflated valuations.

    “This is indicative of the dichotomy that exists between private valuations and public valuations,” said Mark Tluszcz, chief executive of venture capital firm Mangrove Capital Partners.

    He added: “There’s lots more companies that won’t stack up when they are properly scrutinised. Many of the unicorns of today will be the unicorpses of tomorrow.” A “unicorn” is Silicon Valley jargon for a technology start-up that has been valued at more than $1bn.

    The cancelled IPO is a blow for Deezer’s shareholders, who include French telecoms tycoon Xavier Niel. In 2012, Deezer raised €100m from billionaire investor Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Idinvest Partners. Other shareholders include Orange, the French mobile operator, and music groups Universal, Sony, and Warner.

    Investor concerns about the lack of profits among streaming companies have intensified in recent weeks. Pandora Media, the US-listed music service, has seen its market value tumble by more than a third in recent days after its financial results fell short of investor expectations.

    Deezer, which gives its users access to a catalogue of 35m songs, is one of the largest music streaming companies. But it faces fierce competition from rivals such as Spotify and Apple.

    As with most streaming services, which must make large royalty payments to music copyright holders, Deezer has never made a profit. It reported an operating loss of €27m in 2014 on revenues of €142m.

    Deezer said that as of June, it had 6.3m “total subscribers”. However, of that total, only 3.8m were generating revenue for the company. Many of Deezer’s “total subscribers” are part of telecom bundling deals and do not actively use the service.

    While some new listings have struggled in recent months, the IPO market is by no means closed. Ferrari, the luxury carmaker, completed a $9.8bn IPO in the US last week, having priced its shares at the top of its marketed range.