Warner Music nears sale ahead of board meeting: sources

NEW YORK Thu May 5, 2011 6:21am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warner Music Group WMG.N could reach a deal to sell itself as soon as close of business on Thursday when the board will meet to make a final decision, according to a two people familiar with plans.

The world's third largest music company is expected to be sold for over $3 billion with leading bidders including Russian-American industrialist Len Blavatnik's Access Industries and Tom and Alec Gores' Platinum Equity/The Gores Group.

The Financial Times and Wall Street Journal reported late on Wednesday that Blavatnik is a leading bidder with an offer of over $8 a share, valuing the company well north of $3 billion. Shares of Warner Music rose some 11 percent to $8.25 in after-market trading.

Reuters sources cautioned that no deal had been struck with any party at present and an agreement will not be reached until the board meets.

Blavatnik is a long time associate of Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman and his father. He was a director of Warner Music from 2004, when Bronfman led a buyout of the company from Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), up until 2008. He still owns around 2 percent of Warner Music.

If Blavatnik were to win control of the company he would be more likely to continue to work with Bronfman and his management team, said one of the sources. This would include looking at a possible bid to buy EMI Group from Citigroup.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Bernard Orr)

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