After waving its fanny in the air for a number of months, Warner Music Group has finally found a mate in Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, who purchased the entire firm today for $3.3 billion — in cash! The Financial Times had estimated that WMG was getting bids between $1.4 and $2 billion, but that was before Blavatnik busted open the boardroom doors and gave CEO Edgar Bronfman five minutes in the Access Industries money machine. As the firm was bought in full, WMG will now become a private company with no shares listed on the NYSE.
Bronfman, wiping away tears of joy with unsold Built to Spill picture discs, had this to say about their new owners in a companywide memo: “Access is deeply committed to helping us achieve our fullest potential in the years to come. They value our rich history and understand that success relies on a relentless commitment to artist development and A&R. They know that our people are the best in the business. And they recognize the excellence in—” got it, buddy. Bronfman’s enthusiasm likely stems from the fact that he’ll probably get to keep his position in the company; Blavatnik has had a long positive relationship with the CEO, serving on Warner’s board in the past and regularly complimenting Bronfman on his neatly kept beard.
As for Blavatnik, this is one of the more risky investments he’s made, having built his fortune on oil and aluminum giants, neither of which have to worry about how they’re going to market another Goo Goo Dolls album. But if there’s anybody who can twist the public’s arm and get them to buy a lousy CD, it’s probably the guy who organized a hostile takeover of a tractor factory in post-Soviet Russia. Blavatnik is also rumored to be planning a similar purchase of EMI in the coming months (currently owned by Citigroup), which makes sense since EMI and Warner have been trying to merge for years, and also because the guy’s got oodles of green to spare, even after dropping billions today. Hmmm….
Dear Mr. Blavatnik,
As an employee of Tiny Mix Tapes LLC, I keep my finger on the pulse of current and future WMG clients on a daily basis. My news articles on WMG artists reach a wide swathe of young professionals all over the world, thanks to the social networking solutions I employ, combined with my ‘can-do’ attitude. Given the opportunity, I would stop at nothing to achieve excellence and develop winning strategies for today’s hottest WMG artists and entertainers. I’ve read about your hostile takeover of a tractor factory, and I found that your ability to seize an opportunity mirrors my own strengths and ambitions. I hope to hear from you soon regarding this exciting and fruitful partnership.
• Warner Music Group: http://www.wmg.com