Following the CNBC report, Reuters reported that Pandora is not undertaking any new effort to find a buyer, citing an anonymous source. That’s consistent with what Pandora execs said earlier this year, after a New York Times report in February that the company was seeking to sell itself.
Pandora stock was trading up nearly 10% in mid-morning trading after the initial spike. [UPDATE: Pandora shares closed up 16.1% Friday, to $13.33 per share. Liberty Media ended the day up 0.9%, to $30.67 per share.]
According to the CNBC, Pandora has “expressed a willingness to engage” in deal talks with “longtime suitor” SiriusXM, which is majority-owned by John Malone’s Liberty Media. The potential talks between the companies were in “the first inning of the process,” per the report, citing unidentified sources.
Pandora was founded in 2000 as an ad-supported internet “radio” service that plays a stream of songs based on artist or genre, and has since rolled out an ad-free subscription offering. In September the company reached deals with the three big record labels and smaller players, and now plans to debut an on-demand music-subscription service in early 2017.
Activist investor Corvex Management, which is Pandora’s biggest shareholder, has called for the company to seek a sale.
“We have become increasingly concerned that the company may be pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximizing alternatives,” Corvex managing partner Keith Meister wrote in a May 2016 letter addressed to Pandora chairman Jim Feuille. Meister urged the company enlist an investment bank to evalute a sales process “and to evaluate the results against other options including the risk-adjusted value of continuing to operate on a standalone basis.”