With the Financial Times reporting that a deal with Citigroup and Universal for EMI's recorded music division could be struck by the start of next week, sources say that the bank may close the publishing deal first, possibly as soon as today (Nov. 11).
A Sony Corp.-led investment group and BMG Rights Management are vying for EMI Music and both are said to have put in bids for more than $2 billion.
Sources say the Sony investment group will find out in the morning whether or not its financing deal to help fund the acquisition will come together. If Sony nails down the deal, it's a two horse race; if it doesn't then BMG, which is a joint venture between Bertelsmann and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, would have the edge.
The Financial Times reported that finally Citigroup conceded on one of the stumbling blocks, assuming the EMI pension fund liabilities -- something that sources told Billboard.biz was still up in the air on Thursday afternoon.
Those liabilities are estimated by some bidders at 400 million pounds if they were to be passed along to the new owner, but if Citigroup assumes the liabilities its burden may not be that much. One source puts the pension liabilities from Citigroup's end to be about 150 million-200 million pounds, which may be referring to the agreement EMI already hammered with the U.K. regulator last December that calls for the company to pay out 197 million pounds over the next five years. It was only when the company was going to be split and sold in separate deals that the pension fund liabilities become a problem.