Guitar-maker Fender helps to revive IPO market

A view of a Fender mandolin as Ha Ha Tonka performs at Bowery Ballroom on June 14, 2012 in New York City. Fender Musical Instruments, whose electric guitars fueled the rise of rock and roll, is going public to tap new music markets in India and China.

Kai Ryssdal: Don't look now, but it seems Facebook didn't kill the IPO market after all. Kayak.com, the travel site, priced its shares today on the way to going to go public later this week.

Fender, the guitar-maker behind so many Jimi Hendrix solos, is firming up its plans too. Why go public after 66 years of greatness? Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore explains.


Heidi Moore: Matt Williamson is a self-described Fender guitar guy. He teaches at the New York City Guitar School. He has recently noticed that this students  aren’t out to imitate Hendrix.

Matt Williamson: I’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of Indian students, for the last two years especially. They’re  interested in learning Indian music for the most part, sort of Bollywood.

Fender wants to court Indians. In fact, it’s part of the reason the company that made its name with rock-and-roll plans to raise $160 million by going public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Last year, it started a line of signature guitars from Indian musician Ehsaan Noorani. Fender’s Indian guitars have slimmer necks. Noorani has said that’s for small Indian hands.

Fender is the latest American icon to cast its eyes overseas. Michael Yoshikami runs Destination Wealth Management.

Michael Yoshikami: It is going to be a continuing trend for Fender and I think many companies , whether it’s Starbucks, Disney, whoever’s it’s going to be, they’re going to look to capitalize on American brands in the Asian market.

He says that as long as Fender is going public, the sooner, the better. In the stock market, as in music, timing is everything.

In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.

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