Billionaire investor Ron Burkle has dropped out of the Warner Music Group auction, leaving two final bidders, said two people with knowledge of the decision.
Yucaipa Cos., Burkle’s investment company in Los Angeles, won’t submit a final offer when bids are due May 2, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Burkle is leaving the auction to Len Blavatnik and private-equity billionaires Tom and Alec Gores. A final decision may be made within two weeks, one of the people said. Warner Music, the New York-based record company run by Edgar Bronfman Jr., put itself up for sale in January.
Blavatnik’s New York-based Access Industries Holdings may drop out of the bidding if the sale process drags on, said one person.
The developments were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.
Warner Music, home to artists including Cee Lo Green and The Black Keys, gained 9 cents to $7.47 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has climbed 33 percent this year.
The three final suitors each offered $3 billion or more for Warner Music’s recorded music and publishing assets, a person with knowledge of the situation said on April 16. The company, which has long-term debt of $2.27 billion, may let more bidders in later, people said then.
Eight 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. Bronfman, who holds about 7 percent, is chairman and chief executive officer.