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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Warner Music offering falls flat
Madonna in concert
Madonna is one of Warner Music's leading artists
Warner Music shares have failed to hit the right note on their initial public offering (IPO), falling more than 7% to $15.75 (8.40) on their New York debut.

The offering raised $554m for Warner, whose artists include Madonna. But it fell short of its $750m target.

Investors, led by former Warner Music boss Edgar Bronfman, bought the firm in 2004 from Time Warner for $2.6bn.

This time, shares were priced at $17, well below the $22-24 IPO range which Warner Music initially wanted.

The world's fourth-largest music company made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday but its shares quickly dipped below the $17 offer price.

Tough market

Warner Music plans to use the cash raised from its IPO to reduce its debt, which currently stands at $2.5bn.

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Sony BMG - 25.1%
Universal - 23.5%
EMI - 13.4%
Warner - 12.7%
Independents - 25.3%
Source: IFPI figures for 2003

The IPO was timed to coincide with some upbeat news for the music industry, with data from researchers Nielsen Soundscan showing a small rise in US album sales during 2004.

The world's major music companies have been struggling to cope with the effects of CD piracy, increased competition and illegal internet downloads.

However, Warner's IPO has been criticised by some analysts for the high valuation underwriters gave to it.

Lower range

Warner Music's share offer comes at a sluggish time for the US IPO market, with many deals pricing at the lower end of expectations.

Last week, shares in investment bank Lazard fell 4% in its market debut after initially pricing at the bottom end of its estimated range.

Other artists in the Warner stable include The Darkness, Green Day, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park.

Recorded music accounts for 83% of the company's revenue, and music publishing for 17%.

Earlier this month, Linkin Park demanded to end the band's contract with Warner, saying the firm's "diminished resources" would leave it "unable to compete in today's global music marketplace".

Why Warner's star-studded back catalogue may no longer be enough

Linkin Park threaten label exit
03 May 05 |  Entertainment
Warner Music seeks to raise $750m
11 Mar 05 |  Business
Has Time Warner turned the corner?
03 Feb 05 |  Business
Madonna sells label after battle
15 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Warner Music cuts workforce 20%
02 Mar 04 |  Business
Media mogul snaps up Warner Music
24 Nov 03 |  Business

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