Monday, March 9, 2015

Report: John Malone Made Play For Universal Music

John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media approached Vincent BollorĂ©, the chairman and biggest shareholder of Vivendi, to gauge the French media and entertainment conglomerate’s interest in selling Universal Music Group, The NY Post is reporting.

Malone and his top lieutenant, Greg Maffei, made the overture for the world’s biggest record company in the last few months, sources said.

The French activist investor, whose 5 percent stake in Vivendi makes him a key decision maker, showed little interest in parting ways with Universal.

John Malone
Vivendi spurned a similar approach from Japan’s SoftBank in 2013. The telecom giant made an $8.5 billion all-cash offer — roughly $2 billion more than Universal’s estimated value at the time.
Malone would likely have to cough up even more for Universal.

Malone has a history with Vivendi. Liberty won a $950 million verdict against Vivendi in 2013, after it sued the French company for allegedly inflating the value of the shares it used to purchase Liberty’s stake in USA Networks more than a decade earlier.

Malone’s bid for Universal, which sources said was informal and deemed a long shot, is just one possible path. Music publishing is another area of interest for Liberty.

Malone likely sees some overlapping benefits in combining it with his existing music holdings. Liberty owns concert promoter Live Nation and satellite-radio outfit SiriusXM.

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