Owners of the Warner Music Group have decided they want to sell the whole company to one bidder, according to the Wall Street Journal, which probably means just four bidders are still in the running.
Warner’s current owners were accepting offers to either buy the whole group or its constituent parts – record labels and publishing – separately. It was thought one option on the table was to keep hold of the record labels, sell the Warner Chappell publishing company, and use the profits of the sale to buy some of EMI. But on Tuesday the group’s board reportedly decided they wanted to sell the company outright to one buyer. It is thought the Warner Music Group in its entirety could fetch up to $3 billion.
Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa company, Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, KKR-backed music rights firm BMG and equity outfit Platinum Equity are all believed to have made bids for the whole company, so presumably only they are now in the running.
Although it trades on the New York Stock Exchange, Warner is still really controlled by the three equity groups who bought the firm off Time Warner in 2004 – Thomas H Lee Partners, Bain Capital Partners and Providence Equity Partners – and the music major’s top man Edgar Bronfman Jr, who led that takeover. It’s not clear what his plans are should this new takeover go ahead – ie is he hoping to keep an executive role, or does he think it’s time to move on again.