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Sirius said to approach Pandora board with takeover interest

Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 08:53

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Sirius XM Holdings Inc Chairman Greg Maffei recently approached Pandora Media Inc's board to express renewed interest in a takeover of the Internet radio provider, according to people familiar with the matter, following up on its offer from earlier this year.

[NEW YORK] Sirius XM Holdings Inc Chairman Greg Maffei recently approached Pandora Media Inc's board to express renewed interest in a takeover of the Internet radio provider, according to people familiar with the matter, following up on its offer from earlier this year.

Sirius's latest approach didn't include a price for Pandora, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Sirius offered about US$15 per share to acquire Pandora earlier this year, the person said.

Pandora hasn't yet responded to the Sirius approach, the person said. Still, Pandora's advisers have begun reaching out to other potential suitors, another person said.

Pandora shares rose earlier Friday after a CNBC report that the company is willing to engage with Sirius. They closed 16 per cent higher at US$13.33, valuing the company at about US$3.1 billion. Sirius fell 5.6 per cent to US$4.30, giving it a market value of US$20.8 billion.

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Pandora hasn't decided if it will restart talks with Sirius, one of the people said.

Representatives for Pandora and for Greg Maffei declined to comment. A Sirius spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since Sirius made its first approach, Pandora has taken steps to shake up its business model as it seeks to placate activist investor Corvex Management LP.

The company hired Centerview Partners LLC to advise on strategic options, people familiar with the matter said in July. Centerview's role could be expanded to run a sale process with Morgan Stanley for Pandora, the people said at the time.

Though Pandora dominates the online radio market it pioneered, the company's growth has slowed in recent years, at the same time as on-demand services Spotify Ltd and Apple Music have added millions of users.

Co-founder Tim Westergren, who returned as Pandora's chief executive officer in March, is trying to almost quadruple sales to US$4 billion by 2020 by going into new businesses, such as ticket sales and concert promotion, while converting free users into paying customers.

The company made three acquisitions last year to diversify beyond online radio, including ticket seller Ticketfly, and is about to introduce a new on-demand service similar to Spotify.

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