Bertelsmann expects definitive list by end of August

BERLIN — The sale of Bertelsmann’s BMG Music Publishing could be wrapped up next month as the media giant continues to whittle down its list of potential buyers.

Bertelsmann finance chief Thomas Rabe said last week the conglom had received 15 offers and “a handful” had made it into a second round of bidding. Company is expecting to have a definitive list by the end of August.

Rabe declined to name bidders or the going price of the business. Vivendi’s Universal Music Publishing, Warner Music and equity firm BC Partners are said to be among the interested buyers for the division, which is valued at an estimated E1.5 billion ($1.9 billion).

Universal is rumored to be leading the field with a reported offer of around $2 billion for the company, which boasts a 700,000-title catalog that includes songs by Coldplay, Robbie Williams, Christina Aguilera, the Bee Gees, Elvis Costello and the Cure.

BMG Music Publishing is the world’s third-largest music publisher, generating $476 million in revenue last year and accounting for 17.5% of Bertelsmann’s music business sales.

Bertelsmann wants to wrap the deal by the end of September and will use the proceeds to help finance the $5.8 billion buyback of a 25% share in Bertelsmann from Belgian holding Groupe Bruxelles Lambert.

Bertelsmann is taking out a credit line to finance the rest of the acquisition and plans to issue a bond to refinance the loan.

Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland are providing the credit and will likely issue the bond.

Rabe said the company had not yet decided on the size of bond, although it could be at least $650 million.

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