Blackstone makes new offer to buy Hipgnosis

LONDON: Private equity firm Blackstone Inc is making a new proposal worth about US$1.5bil to purchase Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd, topping a bid made last week by music rights investor Concord.

The company made an improved, fourth proposal last Saturday to acquire the entire issued and to-be-issued share capital of Hipgnosis at a price of US$1.24 per share in cash, the company said in a statement.

The improved offer is about 7% higher than Concord’s bid.

“Blackstone strongly encourages the board of Hipgnosis to recognise the significant increase in value available to all shareholders under the terms of its fourth proposal, over the US$1.16 as set out in the Concord offer, and to work with Blackstone to reach agreement on a unanimously recommended firm offer in an expeditious manner,” Blackstone said.

Hipgnosis said Sunday that its board intends to recommend Blackstone’s proposal, should the private equity company announce a firm intention to make an offer, and that it is providing Blackstone access to conduct due diligence.

Sky News reported earlier that Blackstone had made prior offers for Hipgnosis, a London-listed music rights investment company which owns song catalogs from Blondie, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Neil Young, among others.

Previous offers from Blackstone included bids at 82 and 88 pence per share, Sky said, less than the 93.2 pence-per-share bid unveiled last Thursday from Concord, a music rights investment company backed by rival Apollo Global Management.

The improved offer from Blackstone, which is being advised by investment bank Jefferies, is equivalent to about 100 pence per share.

Shares of Hipgnosis have surged about 30% since the Concord offer and closed at 91.9 pence last Friday, slightly below its offer price.

Hipgnosis’ board last Thursday unanimously agreed to a deal with Concord, stating it’s unlikely that the share price will increase to reflect the company’s performance because of “numerous company-specific and certain market issues.”

Given there is no certainty Blackstone will make a firm offer, the board continues to currently back Concord’s offer, the firm said Sunday.

The deal capped a period of turmoil for the troubled fund, after a strategic review concluded in March that its assets were worth significantly less than Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM), its investment adviser, had reported last September.

Blackstone owns a stake in HSM, which has a contract to manage the fund’s assets. — Bloomberg

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