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UPDATE 2-French digital music firm Believe falls flat on market debut

* Shares trade below IPO offer price of 19.50 euros

* Believe’s artists include French rapper Jul, PNL

* Share debut comes amid rush of French firms to market (Adds quote from banker)

PARIS, June 10 (Reuters) - Believe, the digital music company behind best-selling French artists such as rap duo PNL, fell flat on its stock market debut on Thursday with its shares sliding over 10%.

Several French firms are preparing listings, belatedly joining a rush of initial public offerings (IPOs) across Europe and the United States since the start of the year, but some are now finding conditions tougher as investors become pickier.

Shares in Believe were trading at around 17.5 euros by 0746 GMT, down from their IPO price of 19.50 euros.

Bankers told Reuters that investors are increasingly choosing to focus on bigger names and excluding mid-cap companies from their plans given the glut of listings.

Some have been forced to put their plans on ice at the last minute, with commodities broker Marex Spectron pulling its planned London IPO on Wednesday due to difficult market conditions, while French car parts distributor Parts Holding Europe (PHE) cancelled its listing last week.

“Unless you have a niche company with nice growth prospects, they just won’t pick up the phone. They have had too much to digest,” one senior Paris-based banker said.

Believe, which operates partly by targeting lesser-known singers outside the ranks of top global stars, had priced its IPO at the bottom of its indicated price range, and reduced the amount it aimed to raise to some 300 million euros.

The company helps to distribute music via deals with platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon, and is looking to expand globally and into new areas such as classical music.

It had aimed for a market capitalisation of 1.9 billion euros at its 19.50 euro target price.

France’s Fonds Strategique de Participations (FSP), an investment group backed by big French insurers such as BNP Paribas Cardif and CNP Assurances, said it had taken a stake worth 60 million euros in Believe and would sit on its board.

Reuters calculations showed that would give FSP a stake of around 3% in Believe. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by David Evans, Jason Neely and Alexander Smith)

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