Warner Music Group has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to find a potential buyer for all or part of the company, according to a report by the New York Times' DealBook blog.
Warner is said to have been approached in recent months by private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts about buying the company. KKR is the joint venture partner with Bertelsmann in BMG Rights Management.
But instead of negotiating with KKR and other companies directly, claims the Times, Warner hired Goldman to begin a formal sale process. Goldman is said to have already begun making pitches to financial investors and media companies.
At the same time, the company has tasked Goldman with working on an acquisition of EMI by Warner, the report says. Warner and EMI have a long history of merger discussions. With EMI currently in a financially precarious situation, Warner is frequently mentioned as a possible acquirer of all or part of the Terra Firma-owned music company.
KKR is best known for publishing but also owns masters and could be in the running for EMI's recorded music division. In a December interview, BMG Rights CEO Hartwig Masuch told MusicWeek "it is no secret we are more interested in rights to masters than publishing."