Just when you thought it was safe to assume EMI would be bought by private equity group Terra Firma – as per the announcement three weeks ago – WSJ hears on the street that Warner Music Group executives and investors are still mulling their options for acquiring the London-based label. (Of course, we never assume a deal’s done until it closes.)
WSJ says Warner could either try to outbid Terra Firma’s $4.7 billion offer or partner with the group following the now-planned buy-out to acquire only EMI’s recorded music interests – both options have been kicked around over the last few weeks. One of the original reasons a direct WMG-EMI partnership didn’t happen during the pair’s first merry dance was due to concerns about its regulatory chances, in light of scrutiny over the merger of SonyBMG and Universal’s acquisition of BMG’s music publishing division. But, asthe FT previously reported, WMG could offload its own music publishing arm to soothe European legislators in particular over the arrival of the EMI acquisition – swapping a Led Zeppelin for a Kanye West, if you will.
Legal murmurings suggest Terra Firma’s offer is far from a done deal. Andrew Shutter, a finance lawyer working on the Terra Firma takeover (via Citigroup’s financing) told trade publication The Lawyer: “There’s the possibility of a counter bid, but we can’t say at the moment what will happen.”