LIBERTY MEDIA: WE’RE ‘ABSOLUTELY’ INTERESTED AT LOOKING INTO BUYING A STAKE IN UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP

Back in August, shortly after we learned that Vivendi was planning to sell up to 50% of Universal Music Group, MBW suggested that US-based Liberty Media may emerge as a candidate in the scrabble to buy a chunk of the world’s biggest music rights company.

Then, a month later, SiriusXM, majority-owned by Liberty, announced that it had fully acquired Pandora for $3.5bn.

This led us to suggest whether Liberty Media could build a true ‘full-stack’ music company – more officially tying together its ownership, or part ownership, of Live Nation, SiriusXM and Pandora. And, therefore, whether a strategic acquisition of a stake in UMG might be under serious consideration.

Yesterday we got our answer. And it’s a big fat yes.

One of the most important annual conferences for the entertainment marketplace is Liberty Media’s Investor Meeting, which this year took place in New York.

Liberty, to paint a picture of its current influence, owns 34% of Live Nation and 71% of Sirius (which should itself soon own 100% of Pandora).

Liberty is also a big player in sports, owning 100% of the Formula One Group and 100% of the Braves Group – parent of the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.

MBW sat through Liberty’s Investor Meeting yesterday, and our ears pricked up when Greg Maffei – the whip-smart CEO of Liberty and the Chairman of SiriusXM – took to the stage. He was asked, outright, whether his company might be interested in acquiring a chunk of Universal Music Group.

He gave a very intriguing answer.

Maffei noted that corporate marriages between large-scale entertainment distributors (like SiriusXM and Pandora) plus major content companies (like Universal Music Group) had created handsome fiscal results in other media industries.

“It’s a little odd, a little different, in the music space,” said Maffei. “While some of the labels have had a taste or touches [of ownership] into a piece of Spotify, there really hasn’t been that same crossover [as in other industries], where a distributor or a content provider has owned an ongoing large piece of the other side.

“I think that’s probably a missed opportunity in some ways, for both [music content owners and music distributors].”

read more here: musicbusinessworldwide.com