Unusual to double shows and expand in China, S-E Asia

Unusual, which had brought singer Mariah Carey - seen here performing at the National Stadium on Oct 24, 2014 - and rock band Foo Fighters to Asia, will run Justin Bieber's concert in Singapore later this year. It wants to double the number of shows
Unusual, which had brought singer Mariah Carey - seen here performing at the National Stadium on Oct 24, 2014 - and rock band Foo Fighters to Asia, will run Justin Bieber's concert in Singapore later this year. It wants to double the number of shows it organises by next year and is expanding into China's second-tier cities and capitals across South-east Asia.PHOTO: UNUSUAL PRODUCTIONS

After staging concerts in Singapore for the past two decades, the nation's best-performing initial public offering this year is taking its entertainment on the road.

Unusual, which will run Justin Bieber's concert in Singapore later this year, wants to double the number of shows it organises by next year, chief executive Leslie Ong said in an interview on Tuesday.

New markets it is expanding into include China's second-tier cities and capitals across South-east Asia.

"These cities have great potential because of their population, and because there aren't many concerts there," Mr 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 Mr Jarick Seet, head of small and mid-cap research at RHB Research Institute Singapore.

Mr Ong said he is in talks with a venue operator that owns multiple exhibition halls across China.

Unusual, which has brought singer Mariah Carey and rock band Foo Fighters to Asia, is considering acquisitions to complement its business, such as ticketing platforms. Mr Ong is also interested in buying rights to children shows and sporting events.

  • 158% 

    Percentage increase in Unusual's share price since its April listing.

Unusual's ambitions 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 per cent in the last five years to US$204 billion (S$282 billion), according to PwC. Chinese consumers are also going overseas for fun, spending less on shopping and more on experiences they cannot get at home.

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

Mr Ong said the valuation will be justified when he adds more shows and executes his expansion plan.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2017, with the headline 'Unusual to double shows and expand in China, S-E Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe