Northern Songs is floated on the stock exchange

9.00am, Thursday 18 February 1965 (49 years ago)

The Beatles’ song publishing company, Northern Songs, was floated on the stock exchange on this day. Previously co-owned by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Epstein and Dick James, it was restructured with 1,170,000 of the company’s five million shares made available to the public.

The move was an attempt to ease Lennon and McCartney’s tax burden, following their phenomenal success during 1963 and 1964. At the time they were paying tax at a rate of 83 per cent, providing much-needed revenue to the British treasury.

The bulk of the shares remained within The Beatles’ circle. Lennon and McCartney retained 750,000 each; NEMS Enterprises controlled 375,000; Harrison and Starr each held 40,000; and Dick James and his business partner Charles Silver each retained 937,500.

Each share in Northern Songs had an initial price of 7s/9d. Initial investors were required to purchase a minimum of 200 shares at a value of £39, putting them well beyond the reach of most fans. When trading opened the price dropped sharply to below six shillings, but soon recovered to double the opening amount.

At the time of floatation, Northern Songs was valued at £2.7 million. The company’s previous owners each sold a quarter of their holdings, netting Lennon and McCartney a tax-free windfall of £94,270 each. However, the company was now vulnerable to future takeover attempts, and the floatation eventually led to the songwriters losing the rights to their songs.

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