Wednesday, August 3, 2011

EMI bids range from $3 bln to $4 bln-FT

LONDON: Bids for EMI suggest that the British music company could fetch more than $4 billion (2.5 billion pounds), the Financial Times said on Wednesday, Aug 3.

The FT said, citing people familiar with the matter, that first round bids from more than 10 groups had spanned a range from just over $3 billion to closer to $4 billion.

A purchase price of about $4 billion would allow Citigroup (C.N) to recoup about three-quarters of the money it lent to Guy Hands' ill-fated private equity buyout in 2007.

Sources cited in the FT said a price tag of more than $4 billion was "aspirational" and the final price would depend on whether the business was sold as one, or split between publishing and recorded music.

The first-round bids, placed in the past few days, have raised expectations that Citigroup, which seized EMI in February, could realize more than the $3.3 billion that rival Warner Music was sold for this year. [ID:nN06182642]

Between four and six preliminary offers were for the whole of EMI, the FT said, citing several peoXple familiar with the auction.

Other bids were split between bidders wanting only the recorded music business behind artists such as Coldplay and The Beatles, and others seeking just EMI Music Publishing, which holds the rights to 1.3 million songs.

The FT said early offers came from rivals including Sony (6758.T), Universal (Vivendi SA) (VIV.PA), Warner Music and BMG, a music publishing joint venture of KKR (KKR.N) and Bertelsmann. [ID:nSGE76L003]

Citigroup is expected to go back to preliminary bidders this week, beginning a process of due diligence that could change their calculations on the valuation of EMI assets.

Bidders expect the bank to ask for second-round bids by the middle of September, according to the FT.

Both EMI or Citigroup were unavailable for immediate comment. - Reuters

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