As the year comes to a close, some big deals are still up in the air; and others appear to be waiting in the wings.
• The auction for AEG, Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns more than 100 arenas including Los Angeles' Staples Center and London's O2, at nearly $10 billion is the biggest deal still to be decided. While it's still unclear which suitors submitted first round bids it looks likely the deal could still be percolating come the New Year, as the sale process will probably shut down after second round bids come in.
• Across town at Live Nation Entertainment, there continues to be speculation that media mogul and investor John Malone, who has become one of its largest individual holders, will encourage the world's largest live entertainment business to go private. In an interview with executive chairman Irving Azoff he expressed frustration at the company's low market valuation since Live Nation merged with Ticketmaster in Feb 2010.
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• For 2012, the biggest deal has been the sale of EMI Music Publishing and EMI Recorded Music go through respectively to a consortium led by Sony/ATV on June 29; and Universal Music Group on September 28. But in order to get regulatory approval both Sony/ATV and UMG agreed to divest some assets, and not only are those deals still pending, both will probably stretch into 2013 too.
• The EMI Publishing assets up for sale include Virgin Music Publishing and Famous Music U.K. songwriters; while the EMI Recorded Music assets up for sale include Parlophone, Chrysalis and Sanctuary.
• The hunt for Parlophone assets is the primary focus of most suitors, sources say, which is drawing attention away from the auctions for EMI Publishing assets and smaller assets like the Concord Music Group . Consequently, those sources suggest that the latter auctions likely won't conclude until the deal for the EMI Recorded music assets are completed.
• While many are betting that Spotify will do an IPO in the New Year, Spotify leader Daniel Ek ruled that out earlier this year. That's because he wants to build market share, which likely will come at the expense of turning profitable in 2013. In April, Ek reported that Spotify will lose $60 million on $889 million in revenue. "We want to build this company longterm…the stock exchange is not an option for us, he told Swedish paper Dagens Industri." (via TechCrunch).
• Another spinoff the press loves to speculate about is whether Sony Corp. will sell off its media assets Sony Pictures, Sony Music Entertainment and its stake in Sony/ATV Publishing. Sony Music has been running a tight ship lately: When EMI Music Publishing came up for sale, Sony didn't bid on it by itself; it went out and found other partners to help make that winning bid. Now the Japanese parent company is supposedly selling its New York headquarters, and reportedly may get $1 billion. Will that bring enough liquidity into its coffers, or will it try and sell something else, like perhaps Sony Music Entertainment? Time will tell and maybe that answer will happen next year.
• Finally, what kind of deal will Lyor Cohen strike for himself? Since he was forced out of the Warner Music Group, the rumor mill has been working overtime, speculating that he will start his own management firm, backed by deep-pocketed friends. That's because there doesn't appear to be any room, let alone a warm-welcome awaiting him at the other two majors, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Time was that after getting fired label presidents and heads of company would jump from label to label landing new top gigs. But that trend died about a decade ago, and nowadays when label presidents are terminated, they soon disappear from the limelight.