SONG

Hipgnosis' songs portfolio valuation falls sharply; extends dividend halt

Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

Adds share move in paragraph 2, details on valuation in paragraphs 5 and 6, company background in paragraph 7

March 4 (Reuters) - The valuation of the songs portfolio owned by Hipgnosis Songs Fund SONG.L has declined at least by a fifth from five months ago, the struggling UK music investor said on Monday as it halted dividend payments for the "foreseeable future".

Shares in the FTSE 250 .FTMC firm slipped more than 10% to a record low of 56.40 pence in early trading after the music rights owner also said it would use its cash flow to repay debt.

Hipgnosis, which holds the rights to the work of artists ranging from Shakira to Neil Young, said lead adviser Shot Tower's preliminary report estimates the fair market value of its portfolio between $1.80 billion and $2.06 billion, as of March 1.

At the midpoint, the valuation of $1.93 billion was 26.3% lower than the previously reported fair value of $2.62 billion, as of Sept. 30.

As per Shot Tower's report, about 65% of the company's royalties are currently generated from passive publishing, performance and recorded music income streams.

That figure is expected to decrease to between 40% and 45% over time as additional control rights return to the company upon the expiration of pre-acquisition publishing agreements.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has been mired in troubles since mid last year, including valuation concerns, board and legal battles, and a shareholder revolt against a $440 million catalogue sale deal that forced a strategic review.

The company had said in December said it would suspend dividends for at least the remainder of the financial year to March end.

The music investor said that Shot Tower expects to present its final due diligence findings by March 25.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema)

((abyjose.koilparambil@thomsonreuters.com))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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