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Hipgnosis Delays Half-Year Financial Results Over Valuation Concerns

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has announced a last-second delay in publishing interim results for the six months ended Sept. 30, citing concerns over its valuation following a series of hiccups for the Merck Mercuriadis-led company.

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The fund, which owns full or partial rights to the song catalogs of artists ranging from Justin Bieber, Neil Young, Bruno Mars, Jimmy Iovine, 50 Cent, Shakira, Blondie, Justin Timberlake, Lindsey Buckingham and many more, was scheduled to publish it financial results on Tuesday (Dec. 19) but now expects to announce on New Year’s Eve, according to a regulatory filing.

In explaining the delay, the Hipgnosis board said the valuation it received from an independent firm was “materially higher than the valuation implied by proposed and recent transactions in the sector,” namely two deals involving itself: a proposed $417.5 million sale of 29 catalogs to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a price reflecting 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% discount on the songs’ valuation as of early fall.

Due to the disparity between the independent valuation and the “implied” one tied to recent trends and proposed sales, the board sought advice from its in-house investment advisor, Hipgnosis Song Management Limited, which delivered a “heavily caveated” opinion that led to the board’s concerns as to the valuation of HSF listed in the interim results scheduled to be disclosed today.

Hipgnosis is comprised of three companies: Hipgnosis Song Management, Hipgnosis Songs Capital and Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The latter of the three has been mired in controversy in recent months after it was announced that the London-listed trust would not pay its investors a dividend because of new, lower projections for revenue. On Oct. 26, investors of the fund overwhelmingly demanded structural changes to the music rights company, with more than 80% of Hipgnosis investors voting in favor of the board drawing up “proposals for the reconstruction, reorganization or winding-up of the company to shareholders for their approval within six months.”

Last month the company announced that the fund will not declare dividends before the new fiscal year, which begins next April, in order to ensure it has enough on its balance sheet to pay contractually-mandated catalog bonuses.

Investors are still processing the news, with the company’s stock only slightly down, roughly 2%, in mid-day trading on the London Stock Exchange.

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