Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Verizon Mulling Pandora, If SiriusXM Deal Fails

Verizon is eyeing a possible $100 million investment in Pandora Media if the online music streamer fails to reach a deal this week for an outright sale to satellite radio giant SiriusXM, The NY Post has learned.

Top Verizon exec Tim Armstrong could be a candidate for the Pandora board under one possible scenario, according to sources, with one insider noting that the radio giant could benefit greatly from Verizon-owned AOL’s expertise in programmatic, or automated ad serving.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam isn’t weighing a full-on Pandora purchase at this stage since he is still busy integrating his acquisition of Yahoo with AOL in the short term, sources said. But Verizon could be interested in data from Pandora’s 80 million, mostly young mobile users.

The Post confirmed on May 17 that Liberty Media’s SiriusXM was holding active conversations about an acquisition of Pandora, and sources say SiriusXM has been conducting due diligence on Pandora for the past few weeks.

Still, there are suggestions that prior conversations in early May were in the $13-a-share range. Fears linger that Liberty Media CEO Gregg Maffei, negotiating on behalf of SiriusXM, will back out or try to negotiate the price down still further.

Pandora’s stock has had a rough few weeks amid the uncertainty, but closed up 1.8 percent on Friday at $9.30 a share. That’s well under the $15-per-share bid SiriusXM made to Pandora’s board last July. The rejection of that much higher offer last year could result in lawsuits, insiders say.

If Pandora and SiriusXM can’t come to terms, Pandora has lined up other options. Private equity firm KKR said last month it would invest $150 million in Pandora in return for preferred shares if the firm had not sold itself within 30 days. The 30-day deadline arrives this Thursday.

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