Two weeks ago, FT Alphaville took a look at Hipgnosis Songs Fund — a £1bn UK-listed closed-end investment vehicle that has spent the best part of the last three years raising and spending cash to buy song catalogues.
Founded and run by Merck Mercuriadis, who once managed names such as Elton John, the business promises to transform songwriting royalties into juicy dividend payments for its investors, uncorrelated with traditional asset classes.
The fund has stood out in particular due to the rapid nature of its growth: acquisitions are seemingly announced every week, often with few financial disclosures. This has raised questions about the prices Hipgnosis is paying for the song catalogues, and whether the deals can support the cash flow investors are expecting will line their pockets in the future.
Yet, a lack of transparency is a trend that seems to have continued this Thursday morning. From the FT’s excellent Nic Fildes:
A share placing with no specific total in mind to buy an unspecified set of song catalogues? Hmmm.
Look, Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s financial piping might be gushing cash but the issue is, we simply don’t know at the moment. New song catalogues, fuelled by fresh equity issuance, bring in new cash flows, meaning it’s hard to get a handle on the fund’s steady-state economics at the moment. Whether this will change in the future, either through more granular financial disclosures or simple a slowdown in its Pac-Man-esque acquisition policy, remains to be seen.
However, with the shares hovering around the fund’s last stated net asset value, the market seems convinced for the moment.
Related Links:Hipgnosis issues new shares to fuel music rights buying spree — FTStifel is worried that Hipgnosis Songs Fund is slipping out of tune — FT Alphaville