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Visitors at a booth of Tencent Music Entertainment at the Beijing Music and Life Show in Beijing in May 2017. Photo: Reuters

Kuke Music hopes to be third-time lucky with its New York initial public offering after two attempts failed in Hong Kong

  • Beijing-based classical music streaming service Kuke Music seeks US$50 million IPO on New York Stock Exchange, filing shows
  • With customers such as Tencent Music, Kuke Music’s US listing application comes after previous attempts to list in HK

Kuke Music Holding, a streaming service for classical music, filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange after its previous attempts to raise capital failed on the main board of the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The Beijing-based company is seeking to raise an estimated US$50 million, according to its preliminary regulatory filing, with the price range of its American depositary shares redacted. It is seeking to trade under the symbol “KUKE”.

Deutsche Bank, Tiger Brokers and AMTD are listed as the underwriters for the deal. These banks were either not immediately available for comment or did not respond to enquiries from the Post.

Kuke Music claims to be China’s largest classical music licensing service provider with about 47 per cent market share in terms of revenue in 2019. It boasts a library of 1.8 million music tracks and over 740 institutional clients, including universities, music conservatories and public libraries, according to its preliminary filed to the US security regulator.

The proposed US IPO represents Kuke Music’s third attempt to sell shares offshore. Kuke Music was originally delisted from China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ) in November 2017 through a voluntary delisting process, just 15 months after it had been listed on the over-the-counter market for small and medium enterprises.
After delisting from NEEQ, Kuke Music tried listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange’s main board in June 2018 and January 2019, though both attempts failed.
The New York Stock Exchange decorated for the first day of trading for the Chinese music-streaming platform Tencent Music Entertainment. Photo: Shutterstock
US investors might be more familiar with the business models of music streaming service providers, as Tencent Holdings’ music streaming arm Tencent Music Entertainment is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, raising about US$1.1 billion in 2018.

Spotify, the Swedish audio streaming service provider with nearly 300 million global users, is also listed in New York. Issuers tend to prefer a market on which there are comparable peers already trading, deal advisers say.

Kuke Music’s nine-month loss surged to 59.4 million yuan (US$8.5 million) from 700,000 yuan in the same period a year ago, according to its US filings.

Kuke Music gets most of its revenue from subscription and licensing fees. As of September 30, Kuke Music licensed about 800,000 classical music tracks by over 200 music labels to licensees including Tencent Music, and other digital music service providers such as NetEase Cloud Music, airlines, film and TV production companies.

It claimed to be the second-largest online classical music subscription service provider with about 14 per cent revenue share in 2019, data from research firm Frost & Sullivan shows.

It plans to use the net proceeds raised on enhancing its music education service offerings, and on potential acquisitions and investment opportunities.

China’s classical music market is expected to grow to 2.4 billion yuan by 2025, from 1.5 billion yuan expected by the end of 2020, data from Frost & Sullivan shows. The market comprises classical music licensing, online subscription service and live music performance.