Is a Pandora-SiriusXM Deal Back On?

Pandora
Sipa USA via AP

Barely two months after talks about a possible SiriusXM purchase of the embattled internet radio service Pandora collapsed, they may be back on again, according to a report in the New York Post.

In early March, Greg Maffei, CEO of SiriusXM parent company Liberty Media, called Pandora “overvalued” and said it was unlikely the John Malone-led conglomerate would buy Pandora at its then-current stock price, which was $12.47 per share. His comments, which many at the time speculated were a play to drive down a purchase price, sent Pandora’s shares down 6%.

A source told the Post that a bid could be as high as $12-13 per share, but another source said that price was far too high. Maffei has said he believes Pandora is worth $10 per share. The company’s shares closed at $8.93 on Wednesday.

The Tim Westergren-helmed Pandora has been nothing if not active in the past few weeks. Its earnings report early in May revealed that private equity investment fund KKR had committed to investing $150 million in the company. As part of that deal, KKR is getting its hands on preferred stock of the company, as well as a seat on Pandora’s board of directors — but if Pandora were to be sold by early June, it would have to pay KKR just $15 million, thus increasing the urgency of a sale.

Pandora saw its ad revenue slow down in Q1, but subscriber growth accelerated, thanks in part to the launch of its Premium service, which directly competes with Apple Music and Spotify. A total of 1.3 million users began a trial subscription in the past seven weeks alone. However, moving into the streaming business has been an expensive proposition for the company; it is also reportedly looking to sell off its ticketing business, Ticketfly, which it purchased just 18 months ago for $450 million.

When reached by Variety a rep for Pandora declined to “comment on rumors and speculation”; a rep for SiriusXM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

 

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