Access Industries Leads Bidding for Warner Music Group

Access Industries leads bidding for Warner Music Group after prices were required to be submitted Monday.

The group, spearheaded by media mogul and Warner minority shareholder Len Blavatnik, has been granted exclusivity with the company until midnight tonight. Access submitted a bid valuing Warner at $3.3 billion.

Sources confirmed that that price alone would win the auction, but previous auction plans had requested final marked-up merger agreements to be submitted to Warner and its financial adviser, Goldman Sachs, by Friday.

Terms — versus price — could prove important. The Yucaipa Companies had submitted a bid north of $3 billion but withdrew from the auction late last week, in the face of the realization that business synergies would mean management changes - something bidders must consider.

One source noted that the greatest synergies would come from combining Warner Music — whether whole or in part — with its overseas competitor, EMI. The source continued to say that both suggested final bidders — Blavatnik's Access and a team consisting of both Alec and Tom Gores would likely participate in the EMI auction as well.

The Access camp, if its exclusivity period proved fruitful, hoped to have a transaction announced by late Thursday.

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