Warner Music Group is getting more bids than expected for the recorded music division and the entire company, a source told Billboard Tuesday morning.
At the same time, Warner has also received bids for music publishing division Warner/Chappell, the part of the company typically thought to be the more stable -- and hence desirable -- division.
More than five companies have placed bids, the source said, declining to name more than five: Sony/ATV, supermarket magnate Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies, Platinum Equity, Len Blavatnik's Access Industries (which already owns 2% of Warner) and BMG Rights Management. These are the five mentioned in a Financial Times article on Wednesday. Last week Bloomberg reported that more than 10 bids had been received, although only three parties were mentioned.
All but BMG exceeded the minimum bid during the first round of bidding, the source said, supporting the Financial Times' claim that BMG was instructed to come back with a higher bid. The Times puts the range of bids for Warner/Chappell at $1.4 billion to $2.0 billion. The New York Post reported that Warner has been "disappointed" by the bids. However, Billboard's source claimed to be unaware of any such reactions within the company from the first round of bidding.
No details have emerged about the amount of the bids placed on either Warner's recorded music division or the entire company.
While Universal Music Group did not bid for Warner/Chappell, the company is in talks to purchase a number of Warner's global recorded music assets, a second source familiar with the situation told Billboard. Universal already has the leading global market share for both recorded music and music publishing. It would face inevitable regulatory hurdles if it attempted an acquisition of an entire Warner division. But by acquiring a small number of select recorded music assets, Universal could steer clear of such issues.
Billboard is told the bidding process could come to a close by the end of March or early April, after which Warner will eventually either accept a bid or opt to keep one or both divisions.