Is Sony Publishing Headed For Sale or Auction?

In a recent story leaked by the Wall Street Journal, it appears that Sony Corp. has triggered a clause in its co-ownership agreement of publishing giant Sony/ATV, which it shares with the Michael Jackson estate, that allows for either party to initiate a buyout of the other, signaling that the beleaguered corporation is looking to either sell its half of the Sony/ATV joint-venture ownership to the Michael Jackson estate or simply offer a buy-out. The reasons for the trigger remain a mystery to many, the challenging relationship between the partners is an oft-cited rumor. Whatever the outcome, the finish line on any deal remains far in the distance.

Word from the curb hears this process could end with Sony/ATV on the auction block, however, the process could end more simply, with one partner buying out the other and the sole owner living happily ever after.

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“The buy-sell process has been initiated, and it hasn’t been determined yet among the two as to who the buyer and who the seller is,” says one source with knowledge of the proceedings. “What happens after the process, when one of them owns the entire company, is unknown at this point.” Sony declined a request for comment.

Of the two partners, it is more likely that Sony will buy out the Michael Jackson estate (the “ATV” in Sony/ATV) than the reverse. While administrators John Branca and John McClain have returned the Jackson estate to solid financial footing, it’s likely that Jackson’s heirs would prefer to sell their stake in the company.

Aside from Janet Jackson and her billionaire husband, the biggest question in this whole thing is who will write a check for the $650 million asking price? Stay tuned….

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