Bids for a likely $3 billion buyout of Warner Music Group are in with the company's board for review over the next couple of days, according to two people familiar with the process.
Three parties are known to have put in bids for the world's third largest music company which is home to acts from current stars like Bruno Mars through to music legends like Led Zeppelin.
According to three people familiar with process, the bidders include billionaire Len Blavatnik's Access Industries; a joint bid from Tom and Alec Gores' Platinum Equity/The Gores Group; and a pair of separate bids from Sony Corp's recorded music arm and publishing units in partnership with investor Ron Perelman and Guggenheim Partners respectively.
The final round of bidding, which is being handled by Goldman Sachs and AGM Partners, is expected to come in with offers just over $3 billion for the whole company.
The process is expected to be completed by Friday with an announcement of the winning bidder on that day, these people said.
The Warner Music sale process is taking place against a backdrop of ongoing declines in music sales as executives struggle to figure out new business models to guarantee the future of the industry.
Of the three bidders Sony's chance will be seen as the most complicated and therefore the least likely to succeed at this stage.
Warner's board, led by Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman, is keen to close the sale process without delay and fear that a sale to a rival music company could run into regulatory hurdles.
This is one reason why Universal Music Group, owned by Vivendi, is waiting in the wings to see if it can pick up assets from Warner Music's new owners, according to another person familiar with the company's thinking. Universal is the world's largest music publisher and owner of recording labels.
As the Warner Music sale process nears completion, music industry investors are already turning their attention to a possible bid for EMI Group. Analysts believe whoever wins Warner Music would be in a strong position to make a winning bid for EMI as they could save hundreds of millions of dollars by combining the companies.
EMI is owned by Citigroup, which is expected to put the music company up for sale in the near future after taking control from private equity firm Terra Firma in February.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Richard Chang)