Since it was revealed that Warner Music Group would be up for sale, rumors of possible bidders have swamped the internet. At one point, it was rumored that Napster co-founder Sean Parker was a part of California billionaire Ron Burkle’s group who were bidding on WMG’s recording and publishing units. But according to numerous sources, the list of bidders has grown considerably larger since…as well as the price.
The New York Times reports that among the additional bidders currently in negotiations to purchase the music label are numerous equity firms (such as Permira, Platinum Equity, and the Yucaipa Companies) as well as music companies such as Sony, Live Nation, and BMG Right Management. At least 10 investors were invited to submit offers for a second round of bidding, which ended last week. Possibly even more surprising than the amount of bidders, though, is that bids submitted during last week’s process reached near $3 billion.
It’s pretty astonishing that so many bidders are willing to pay such a high price for a label during a time when probably the worst investment one can make is…well, buying a label. However, it’s important to note that what makes WMG valuable, as well as the struggling EMI, is its publishing divisions. While there may be hope that there is still remaining value in the recording aspect of the industry, the current state of the industry and album sales doesn’t show too much promise. Some speculate further that the label’s purchaser may intend to combine the recording divisions of WMG and EMI (who are likely to be up for sale once WMG is sold) to remove vast operational redundancies. Such actions, though, wouldn’t come to fruition (if at all) for a while.
The New York Times claims that WMG’s board could come to a decision regarding bids as soon as this week. We’ll keep you posted when more develops.