Spotify’s most controversial investor isn’t the major labels…

Spotify is on the path to an IPO – an eventuality that has kicked up a lot of debate in the music biz over what the major labels will be paid as a result.

The idea of any investors getting a one-off windfall from a service built on artists’ appeal – let alone large music rightsholders – was always bound to cause bad blood in the creative and management community.

Update: That’s why Warner and Sony have overtly stated that they will share proceeds from any Spotify IPO or sale with their artists. (Universal has never publicly made such a pledge.)

Yet the major record companies are not Spotify’s most controversial investors anymore, because it turns out that it’s not just private equity which has invested in Daniel Ek‘s business – but governments, too.

According to a new report from E24, Norway’s state has been exposed as a major investor in Spotify, primarily via government-owned asset management company Argentum.

Argentum, which is fully owned by Norway’s Ministry Of Trade, has pumped around $16m into two funds which have jointly invested in Spotify.

The first is North Zone V.

Argentum pushed 105m NOK ($12.8m) into the fund and, as a result, owns 11.4% of Noth Zone’s 12% shareholding in Spotify – or about 1.4% in the streaming platform overall.

And its support of Spotify doesn’t finish there.

Argentum also invested 32m NOK ($3.9m) in another fund, Creandum II LP, and subsequently owns 12.2% of its stake in Spotify.

Creandum is believed to own believe 5% and 6% in Spotify – adding another 0.7% equity stake to the Norwegian government’s portfolio.

This investment has caused particular eyebrow-raising in the Nordics, because Creandum II LP is registered in the tax haven of Guernsey.

Combined, the investments mean that Argentum owns a total in excess of 2% in Spotify.

North Zone remains the biggest external investor.

“Argentum is a long-term and predictable investor in North Zone,” said a North Zone spokesperson [translated].

We see this as very positive. We believe that it makes sense that a small part of Norway’s wealth invested in companies at an early stage and where there is significant growth potential.

“We also believe that it makes sense that it is done indirectly through professional, private communities.”Music Business Worldwide

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