NEW YORK No.1 concert promoter and ticketing company Live Nation Entertainment Inc is in the running to buy the recorded music assets of Warner Music Group Corp, the world's third largest music company, according to a person familiar with the talks.
Warner Music effectively put itself up for sale in January when it hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc and AGM Partners to explore strategic options after it was approached about selling its assets.
Bids have come in valuing the whole company around $3 billion on an enterprise value basis, which includes both debt and equity. Bids for its Warner/Chappell song publishing unit have come in at around $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
Other bidders so far include Platinum Equity, billionaire Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Co, billionaire Len Blavatnik and Sony Corp, which is specifically interested in the song publishing unit, sources familiar with the process have said.
Warner Music is home to acts including Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruno Mars and Green Day.
Live Nation said in 2007 that it would reinvent the music business by doing away with the need to follow the traditional recorded music label model. Through 2007 to 2008 it signed major music stars such as Madonna and rapper Jay-Z to multi-million dollar, multi-year deals that included touring, merchandise and recorded music rights.
But to execute that strategy it still needed to partner with major music labels to distribute the music. Jay-Z's last album, released through Live Nation, ended up being marketed and distributed through a partnership with Warner Music.
News of Live Nation's bid for Warner Music was first reported by Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
Warner Music shares have climbed more than 16.5 percent since Wednesday when a German newspaper reported that German media company Bertelsmann and private equity firm KKR would consider bidding between $2.5 billion to $3 billion for Warner Music.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Ted Kerr)