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Spotify in successful but unusual market debut

05 April 2018

The Swedish music streaming platform, Spotify, on 3 April will be publicly traded for the first following its initially U.S. market debut.

The NYSE set Spotify's reference price late on Monday to be in line with informal, private trading of Spotify shares, giving an early estimate of the level at which supply and demand could be balanced.

Share prices dropped as the day went on, ending at $149.01.

At $26.5bn at the end of the first trading day, Spotify ranks in the top 10 largest United States tech listings.

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Services such as Apple Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, even though trailing after Spotify in terms of numbers of subscribers, do not have to worry about staying commercially viable. The investment firm hasn't sold any shares, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public.

Staff at the stock exchange also hung the Swiss flag outside instead of flag for Spotify's native Sweden.

With a couple of exceptions, Spotify's investors were free to unload their shares in the almost 12-year-old company. Trading under the symbol SPOT, the Swedish company's losses grew to 1.235 billion euros ($1.507 billion) previous year, its largest ever.

The company's path to Wall Street traveled a road littered with failed music streaming service companies. In companies that more strictly curtail those deals, it's easier to track the winners and losers in an IPO.

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However, Sony acknowledged in the notice to shareholders on Wednesday, given that the market value of Spotify's stock following the IPO "may be volatile", the value could fluctuate "during the period that SME continues to hold the shares".

The streaming music industry has given a boost to Sony's music business, whose artists include Beyoncé, DJ Khaled and Justin Timberlake.

As of December, Spotify revealed it had more than 71mn paying subscribers alongside 159mn monthly active listeners, driving its revenue that reached just short of $5bn in 2017.

Fellow streaming and media giant Netflix may provide a roadmap for Spotify's future stock performance, according to one analyst. But on an operating basis, excluding some financial transaction costs, Spotify lost $465 million, 8% worse than the previous year. "We are about twice the size of them", he said.

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Spotify in successful but unusual market debut