Warner Music Group Corp., which put itself up for sale in January, has received more than 10 bids for its businesses, people with knowledge of the process said.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, and KKR & Co.’s BMG Rights Management, bid for the company’s Warner/Chappell publishing business, the people said. Billionaire Len Blavatnik, a former director of Warner Music, is seeking most of the company, they said.
Warner Music’s board plans to review proposals this week and discuss narrowing the field to six to eight candidates, said the people. The record company, which had originally planned to sell its music-publishing unit and bid for EMI Group Ltd., hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in January to explore takeover offers for all or part of the company.
A sale of the publishing assets is still the most likely outcome so Warner Music can bid for EMI, two of the people said.
Selling more than Warner/Chappell publishing may end Warner Music’s pursuit of a merger with EMI, the London-based record company seized this month by Citigroup Inc. after breaching debt covenants. Warner Music received offers for both U.S. and non-U.S. recorded-music units, the people said.
Amanda Collins, a Warner Music spokeswoman, declined to comment, as did Andrea Rachman at New York-based Goldman Sachs.
AGM Partners LLC, a Warner Music adviser on its 2007 effort to buy EMI Group, is also representing Warner on the sale, Alan Mnuchin, managing director of the New York-based company, said in an interview. He declined to comment further.
Jimmy Asci, a spokesman for Sony ATV, declined to comment. Michael Sitrick, a press contact for Blavatnik, who owns 2.6 percent of New York-based Warner Music, declined to comment. BMG Rights CEO Hartwig Masuch declined to comment.
Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, didn’t bid due to antitrust concerns and may seek parts of the recorded music business, people said.
Universal Music Chief Executive Officer Lucian Grainge, who determined regulators wouldn’t allow the company to buy Warner/Chappell, is in talks with Goldman Sachs bankers for Warner Music’s recorded music assets in Japan and territories outside Europe, one person said. Universal Music, a unit of Paris-based Vivendi SA, is also discussing a U.S. distribution agreement, the person said.
Grainge was unavailable for comment, said Universal Music spokesman Peter Lofrumento.
Warner Music, whose artists include Cee Lo Green and The Black Keys, closed unchanged at $6.01 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares have gained 6.8 percent this year.
Eight out of Warner Music’s 13 directors are executives of Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital LLC, two Boston-based private equity firms that together hold 51 percent of the company’s shares. Edgar Bronfman Jr., who holds about 7 percent, is chairman and CEO.