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Is new Warner Music buyer a sucker or savant?
In one possible scenario, Warner’s new owner would try to buy No. 4 EMI in order to reap the benefit of slashing staff at a combined company. It would then shed certain music labels or get rid of one of the publishing divisions to satisfy regulators.
Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, ranked No. 1, is also looking to buy parts of Warner, EMI or both.
Easing worries about the sale is the fact that Blavatnik understands the digital business, said Fred Goodman, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine and author of “Fortune’s Fool: Edgar Bronfman Jr., Warner Music, and an Industry in Crisis.” Blavatnik once licensed music recordings from Warner for an Internet and cellphone service he operated in Russia.
“Many of the people who were interested in buying Warner Music were not really interested in doing anything other than managing it down … making the company smaller and smaller and taking profits out by shrinking,” Goodman said. “I think Blavatnik’s one of the few guys where you think that might not be the case.”
Warner Music’s stock rose 28 cents, or 3.5 percent, to close Friday at $8.18. It hit its 52-week high earlier in the day at $8.24, a penny short of the offer price.
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