Music streaming company Spotify has reportedly filed papers with US regulators to list its shares publicly on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The firm hopes to launch its shares in the first three months of the year, say reports by Axios and Bloomberg.

Spotify, which declined to comment, has been preparing for the listing for months.

It plans to list shares directly on the NYSE, bypassing the traditional stock offering process.

Spotify is the world's biggest music streaming company, ahead of rivals like Apple and Amazon.

Founded in Sweden, the firm has more than 140 million active users in 61 countries, but it has continued to report losses.

It raised $1bn (£740m) in a debt deal with private equity companies in 2016, an agreement with terms linked to an eventual public offering.

Those terms, which include escalating interest rates and the ability to convert debt to discounted shares, make it expensive for Spotify to wait before going public, said Kathleen Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, which manages funds focused on IPOs.

'Choppy beginning'

But she said the decision to list directly could make for a shaky launch.

"It's going to be probably a choppy beginning to find its value," she said.

In a typical public offering, companies issue new shares, with the initial price underwritten by investment banks.

With a direct listing, current Spotify shareholders will take their shares directly to the market.

News outlets Axios and Bloomberg, citing unnamed sources, reported that Spotify sent papers in late December to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in preparation for such a move.

The SEC declined to comment. Eventually, more information about the company and its plans will be disclosed.

Ms Smith said the presence of insiders among initial stock sellers could raise doubts about the firm's prospects.

Lawsuits accusing Spotify of infringing on songwriter rights could also raise questions for investors, she added.

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