Chinese Internet giant Tencent, in which South Africa’s Naspers has a 31.2% stake, is planning to spin off its online music entertainment business and list its shares in the US through a public offering, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Sunday.
Tencent, China’s largest social media and gaming company, said terms of the proposal, including size, price and range, have not yet been finalised. Tencent Music Entertainment Group has picked banks to advise on a planned initial public offering in the US that could raise at least US$1-billion, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg in May.
The announcement follows a similar move by Tencent last year in Hong Kong with its online reading business, China Literature. Its music platforms — QQ Music, KuGou and Kuwo — are becoming important vehicles for pop stars such as Katy Perry and Rihanna to reach a Chinese audience, alongside homegrown artists like Jason Zhang and Joker Xue.
Tencent has the advantage of a fully developed entertainment and content empire that encompasses the ubiquitous WeChat messaging app, games, video streaming, a karaoke app and content licensing deals with more than 200 international and domestic record companies. But like perennial rivals Alibaba Group, Baidu and Netease, Tencent has to contend with the rampant piracy that’s eroding the industry’s profits.
It also counts Spotify as an investor and partner. While the companies don’t compete in China, they come up against each other in regions such as Southeast Asia as both look for growth.
Stockholm-based Spotify Technology went public earlier this year and currently has a market value of $31-billion. In May, the Financial Times said Tencent Music Entertainment’s listing could value the company in excess of $30-billion. Valuation could partly depend on where Spotify was trading at the time, the paper said. — Reported by Carol Zhong, with assistance from Adveith Nair, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP