September 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Bieber’s Singapore show organizer seeks China expansion

AFTER staging concerts in Singapore for the past two decades, the city-state’s best-performing initial public offering this year is taking its entertainment on the road.


Unusual Ltd., which will run Justin Bieber’s concert in Singapore later this year, wants to double the number of shows it organizes by next year, Chief Executive Officer Leslie Ong said in an interview on Tuesday. New markets it’s expanding into include China’s second-tier cities and capitals across Southeast Asia.

“These cities have great potential because of their population, and because there aren’t many concerts there,” Ong said, referring to smaller Chinese cities such as Wuxi and Wuhan. “The crowd is hungry for such events.”

While China offers opportunities, a challenge the company may face is in securing venues, which are largely operated by private entities, according to Jarick Seet, head of small and mid-cap research at RHB Research Institute Singapore Pte.

Unusual’s Ong said he’s in talks with a venue operator that owns multiple exhibition halls across China. The company, which has brought Mariah Carey and the Foo Fighters to Asia, is considering acquisitions to complement its business, such as ticketing platforms. Ong is also interested in buying rights to children shows and sporting events.

Unusual’s ambitions in China come at a time when Chinese appetite for leisure and recreational options is increasing. The country’s domestic media and entertainment industry has grown by more than 70% in the last five years to $204 billion, according to PWC. Chinese consumers are also going overseas for fun, spending less on shopping and more on unique experiences they can’t get at home.

The company’s share price has surged 158% since its April listing. The stock is trading at a price-to-earnings multiple of 50-60, Seet said, which is expensive even if the company doubles the number of shows in a year. Singapore’s benchmark Straits Times Index trades at 13 times earnings.

Unusual’s CEO says the valuation will be justified when he adds more shows and executes his expansion plan. -- Bloomberg