Is Believe about to come off the stock market and re-privatize?

Denis Ladegaillerie

Could Paris-based music company Believe be set to leave the stock market and re-privatize?

According to Reuters, the largest shareholders at the company, which trades on the Paris Euronext, are ‘exploring the possibility’.

MBW’s own sources have confirmed in recent weeks that various discussions have taken place between the company and potential private investors.

Citing its own sources, Reuters reports that Believe investors, including founder and CEO Denis Ladegaillerie, have been ‘working with advisers’ and ‘have been sounding out interest’ from the private equity space for potential bids.

One of the external parties involved in those talks, according to Reuters, is Sweden-based private equity group EQT.

However, sources suggest that EQT and Believe ended talks last month. Another potential investor, private equity company Permira, is also said to have ended talks in December.

This wouldn’t be the first time that EQT had shown an interest in the music industry.

In 2017, the firm bought a 40% stake in Swedish royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound and in 2021 took part in the company’s $450 million funding round that gave Epidemic a “unicorn plus” valuation of $1.4 billion.

In July 2022, EQT bought a stake in talent agency UTA.

And Pophouse Entertainment, the company behind the ABBA Voyage avatar show in London, was co-founded by EQT Chairman, Conni Jonsson; Pophouse also counts an EQT executive, Alexandra Lutz, on its Board of Directors.

News of Believe’s potential go-private deal arrives less than three years after the company floated on the Paris Euronext.

Believe officially went public on June 10, 2021, raising €300 million in the process.

As of September 2023, according to Euronext/Cofisem, just under 20% of Believe was trading on the stock exchange (see below).

Believe’s largest shareholder, as of September 2023, is TCV Luxco, which owns 41.28% of Believe, while the music company’s founder and CEO, Denis Ladegaillerie, owns 12.51%.

Another major shareholder, Ventech, owns 16.92%.

Citing another source, Reuters reports that ‘while a deal might not materialize’, talks are ‘still ongoing’.

Believe’s current market cap value is €911.6 million, according to Euronext data – less than half the size of the music company’s peak valuation in November 2021.

Denis Ladegaillerie’s own 12.51% stake in Believe was worth around €250 million in November 2021 and is now worth approximately €114 million.

At the time this story was published today (January 15), Believe’s shares were trading at €9.42, less than half their €19.50 IPO price on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Believe published its latest financial results, for Q3 2023, on October 24.

Across Believe’s entire business, the company generated EUR €215 million ($234m), representing growth of 9.1% YoY.

On an organic basis (at a like-for-like perimeter and constant exchange rate), Believe’s revenues grew 7.5% YoY.

Believe breaks down its global operations into two divisions:

  • (i) DIY distributor TuneCore (referred to as ‘Automated Solutions’ in its results); as well as
  • (ii) The performance of its core premium label and artist services operation (referred to as ‘Premium Solutions’)

The company’s ‘Premium Solutions’ revenues grew 10.1% YoY – from €184.4 million in Q3 2022 – to €202.9 million ($220.8m) in Q3 2023.

Meanwhile, according to Believe’s financial results, in Q3 2023, revenues generated by its ‘Automated Solutions’ division were down 4.5% YoY to €12.1 million ($13.16m).

According to Believe, this decline was “largely due to the weakening of the dollar versus the Euro of around -6%”.

It added that “organic growth was stable year-over-year as TuneCore also had a challenging comparison basis”.Music Business Worldwide

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