Streaming Music Service Deezer Plans IPO to Challenge Spotify, Apple

  • Proceeds earmarked for expanding sales, entering new markets
  • Music service's sales jumped 41 percent in the first half

French streaming service Deezer SA filed for an initial public offering, beating larger and better-known European rival Spotify Ltd. to the market as competition heats up from Apple Inc. to win on-demand music customers.

The IPO is set to take place toward the end of the year in Paris, Deezer Chief Executive Officer Hans-Holger Albrecht said on a conference call Tuesday. Deezer is seeking funds from investors in a transaction that could value the service at about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), people familiar with the matter said last month. The offer will include new stock, while current owners won’t reduce their stakes, Albrecht said.

Hans-Holger Albrecht
Hans-Holger Albrecht
Photographer: Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images

The IPO proceeds will be invested in the sales network and increasing market market share through partnerships, Albrecht said. “We are just at the beginning of a strong development” that will include expansion in emerging markets, the CEO said.

Started in 2007 by Daniel Marhely, who quit school at 16 to work as a developer for Internet startups, Deezer had 6.3 million subscribers at the end of June, according to the IPO filing. That compares with more than 20 million subscribers for Spotify, the Swedish rival that was said to be valued at $8.5 billion in its most recent financing round. Competition has intensified after Apple introduced its music-streaming offering in June. Deezer also competes with Pandora Media Inc.

For years, Deezer has avoided head-to-head competition with Spotify by holding off in the U.S. and focusing instead on expanding in Europe and emerging markets like Africa. The company has teamed up with phone companies to sell its premium subscriptions coupled with mobile-phone packages and, when it did launch in the U.S. about a year ago, it partnered with speaker maker Sonos Inc. and later with Bose Corp.

Deezer, whose largest shareholders include Leonard Blavatnik’s Access Industries and Idinvest Partners as well as Marhely, joins a slew of European companies seeking funds from investors this year. Issuers including payments processor Worldpay Group Plc and online classifieds business Scout24 Holding GmbH this quarter have announced plans to raise about $9 billion from IPOs, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deezer’s sales jumped 41 percent in the first half of 2015 to 93.2 million euros, led by France, other European markets and Latin America, according to the registration document. The company’s loss narrowed to 8.97 million euros from 12.8 million euros a year earlier.

BNP Paribas SA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are managing the IPO with Citigroup Inc. and Societe Generale SA.

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