Sirius to invest $480 million in Pandora, may be path to music streaming

(Reuters) - Sirius XM Holdings Inc SIRI.O said on Friday it will invest $480 million in Pandora Media Inc P.N, giving the satellite radio company better exposure to internet music streaming while providing financial footing to Pandora.

While Sirius XM has a strong presence in the auto market, where its channels are offered in most new cars in the United States, it has trailed Pandora and other music providers in mobile and streaming content. The relationship could give Sirius expertise in expanding its listening base outside of the car.

“We believe there are future opportunities to accelerate Pandora’s growth and further increase stockholder value,” Sirius XM Chief Executive Officer Jim Meyer said in a statement.

While the companies did not provide details about how they would work together, Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar said Sirius XM could bundle Pandora services to its customers, similar to how Amazon AMZN.O sells HBO and Showtime subscriptions.

Pandora CEO Tim Westergren said the investment “infuses resources to help Pandora continue to grow and innovate.”

Pandora’s shares have lost more than 30 percent over the past 12 months, and the company has never turned a profit on an annual basis.

As of Friday, Pandora’s market capitalization of approximately $2 billion was dwarfed by Sirius XM’s $25 billion.

A person holds a smart phone with the Pandora app showing in New York U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Sirius XM, controlled by media mogul John Malone's Liberty Media Corp FWONA.O will receive three board seats and appoint the chairman. Sirius is prevented from buying additional Pandora stock for 18 months and will not buy more than 31.5 percent of Pandora after that period.

The deal ends a strategic review by Pandora and should ease pressure from activist investor Corvex Management LP that goes back more than year. The deal is a “new opportunity” for Pandora that raises its value, Corvex CEO Keith Meister told CNBC on Friday.

The investment also ends an earlier agreement for KKR & Co KKR.N to make an equity investment. KKR will get a $22.5 million termination fee.

Reuters first reported on Thursday that Sirius XM was looking to invest in Pandora after their merger negotiations fell apart, citing sources.

While Sirius XM agreed to a standstill agreement for 18 months, it probably does not rule out an outright acquisition of Pandora later, analysts said.

Sirius XM’s owner Liberty Media, controls a media empire that includes big stakes in sports teams, cable and internet companies. It took full control of Sirius XM in 2013, five years after it first bought a stake. Liberty owns more than 60 percent of Sirius.

The latest investment by Sirius is convertible into Pandora common stock at $10.50 per share, a 23.8 percent premium to its Wednesday close.

Pandora also said on Friday it will sell its ticketing firm Ticketfly to Eventbrite for $200 million, less than half of the $450 million it paid last year.

Shares of Pandora were up 1.1 percent at $8.51 in afternoon trading, while Sirius was off 3.4 percent at $5.22 per share.

Sirius XM was advised by Allen & Co and Bank of America, while Pandora was advised by Centerview Partners and Morgan Stanley.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in San Francisco and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Jeffrey Benkoe