Hipgnosis Songs Delays Results, Claiming Its Assets Are Undervalued

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Hipgnosis Songs Fund — the company that significantly drove up the value of music catalogs by paying more than $2 billion catalogs by Justin Timberlake, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others — has delayed its mid-year earnings report at the last minute, amid concerns that its assets are undervalued. The company’s stock price has lost half of its value over the past year as the music catalog market has cooled off due largely to higher interest rates; the fund, whose investors voted in October for a full reorganization of its board, has worked to sell off certain catalogs to boost its value.

A rep for the troubled company’s board said it expects to publish its results for the six months ended September 30 by December 31, explaining the delay by saying it has received a valuation from an independent firm that is “materially higher than the valuation implied by proposed and recent transactions in the sector,” according to the Guardian. Founded in 2018 by former Iron Maiden and Guns N’ Roses manager Merck Mercuriadis, led the charge on the music catalog gold rush of recent years but became overextended in recent months.

The board cited two of its own deals: a proposed $417.5 million sale of 29 catalogs to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a price that includes a 24.3% discount from a valuation dated March 31, and last week’s sale of 20,000 “non-core songs” to an undisclosed buyer for $23.1 million, which it said reflects a 14.2% drop on the songs’ valuation as of early fall.

Last week, the fund sold 20,000 “non-core” songs for $23.1 million, at a 14% discount.

Tuesday’s statement also referred to a proposed sale of assets for $417.5 million at a 24% discount from a previous valuation, when Hipgnosis was unsuccessful in an attempt to sell nearly a fifth of its back catalog to the private equity group Blackstone. That company had previously invested in Hipgnosis Song Management, which determines the fund’s investments.

“Hipgnosis Song Management eventually provided an opinion, which was heavily caveated, such that the board has concerns as to the valuation of the company’s assets in its interim results,” a rep for the fund said.

The fund’s value has been ravaged by higher interest rates, which has gouged the prospects of future income from streaming royalties. The company cancelled its dividend payments to shareholders in October, saying that changes to U.S. royalties had reduced its income.

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