Music Giant Backed by Pony Ma Is Poised to Spin New Billionaires

(Bloomberg) -- A lawyer, a computer scientist and China’s third-richest person are poised to create one of the year’s biggest hits in the music industry.

Co-presidents Xie Zhenyu and Xie Guomin are on the brink of becoming billionaires as Tencent Music Entertainment Group prepares a public stock offering in New York that may value the company at $24.5 billion. Zhenyu’s fortune could be $952 million if they price at the upper end of the range provided in a prospectus, and Guomin’s $922 million.

Edmond Lococo, an external spokesman for Tencent Music, said the company declined to comment on their net worth.

This week’s IPO will give American investors the opportunity to speculate on the expanding Chinese market for music-streaming services. Tencent’s growth in China mirrors inroads by Spotify in the U.S., where streaming has helped music sales grow at their fastest rate since the 1990s.

Revenue at China’s largest online music entertainment platform, which counts Pony Ma’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. as its biggest shareholder, surged 152 percent last year to 11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion). PAG Capital Ltd. is the second-largest owner, followed by Spotify Technology SA.

Guomin, 44, worked as an attorney after he graduated from Peking University and joined Sina Corp., parent of China’s version of Twitter, in 1999. He served stints as vice president of public relations, general counsel and general manager of Sina Music. In 2012, he founded China Music Corp., or CMC, which specialized in music copyright. CMC acquired online music service provider Kuwo the following year.

Zhenyu, 43, started out as a technical engineer at China Merchants Bank in 1998 after receiving a degree in computer science from Sun-Yat Sen University. He quit that job to found SoGua Music, China’s first digital music search engine, according to the prospectus. In 2004, he set up music company Kugou, which merged with rival Kuwo a decade later. Tencent acquired a majority stake of CMC, the parent company of Kugou and Kuwo, in 2016 and renamed the combined entity Tencent Music.

The company’s platforms are becoming important vehicles for pop stars such as Katy Perry and Rihanna to reach a Chinese audience, alongside homegrown artists such as Jason Zhang and Joker Xue.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.