EMI sale gets tepid response from bidders

EMI sale gets tepid response from bidders

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MUMBAI: Music companies are under difficult times. Even as they have had to compete against digital technologies and piracy, the global financial turmoil is hitting them hard.

EMI Group, put under sale by Citigroup, has got a tepid response from bidders. The bid amounts have been unattractively low as banks have been reluctant to fund these bids.

For the recorded music division of EMI, the bids have landed in the region of $1 billion to $1.3 billion. EMI?s publishing unit has drawn bids between $1.75 billion and $2 billion. While EMI enjoys a 20 per cent market share in the publishing division market (controls the copyright for the music and the lyrics), its record division has a poor nine per cent share and is the smallest among the other top four music companies. 

EMI, snapped up by Citigroup in February after a messy four-year control by private equity firm Terra Firma, was put on the block in June after a $3.5 billion debt write-off. Citi was expecting EMI to fetch $4 billion from potential buyers.

EMI?s recorded music arm has drawn offers from Warner (now owned by Russian-born investor Len Blavatnik) and the Universal Music Group. Bidding for the publishing unit are BMG Music, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Sony/ATV, a joint venture between Sony Corp and the estate of Michael Jackson.

Citigroup has still not decided whether it should sell EMI as a single company or split it into two arms and find investors in each of them. It may also decide to put the sale on hold till the market improves.

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