Verizon May Be Crashing Sirius XM and Pandora Wedding Party

6/6/17

By Rick Munarriz, MotleyFool

It seems as if Pandora (NYSE:P) may have more than one gentleman caller vying for its affections. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is considering an investment in the meandering but available music-streaming pioneer, according to a New York Post report. This comes just a couple of weeks after the same publication reported that Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) was restarting buyout negotiations with Pandora's investment bankers.

Verizon wouldn't be interested in an outright buyout of Pandora, sources say. Instead, the telecom giant is considering a $100 million investment. The deal would only happen if Sirius XM doesn't succeed in swallowing Sirius XM whole, and that's just as well. This isn't exactly a bidding war between Sirius XM and Verizon that would ultimately reward Pandora shareholders with a higher exit price, but Pandora's remaining independent would be an interesting consolation prize.

A Pandora concert.

IMAGE SOURCE: PANDORA.

It's good to be wanted

The spike in interest in Pandora doesn't come out of the blue. Ever since Pandora announced last month that it secured $150 million in financing from private equity firm KKR -- and that it would explore strategic alternatives in the 30 days leading up to the close of infusion -- it's been the equivalent of a bartender's final call for alcohol. An investment in Pandora would be dilutive for any potential acquirer, a field that presently only include Sirius XM if it's even making a play on the former dot-com darling at all.

Reports surfaced last summer that Sirius XM was offering $15 a share for Pandora, but the new New York Post article suggests that the new big may be closer to $11 to $12 a share given Pandora's weakening fundamentals over the past year. With regulators likely to take their time in scrutinizing the potential purchase of Pandora after taking more than a year to OK the combination of Sirius and XM several years ago, it wouldn't be a surprise if Pandora shoots down a lowball offer unless it came loaded with beefy guarantees if a deal doesn't pass regulatory muster.

Verizon is still a suitable potential investor. It's been snapping up former dot-com giants, and Pandora would fit well in its lineup. Verizon could cash in on Pandora's captive audience of 76.7 million monthly active users, and it could also bundle Pandora's premium streaming platform into its wireless plans. The Post's article suggests that Tim Armstrong from AOL -- which Verizon snapped up during its internet-company buying spree -- could join Pandora's board, providing the struggling enterprise with its online advertising business.

We'll have clarity on the situation soon enough, as Thursday marks 30 days since the announcement of KKR's investment and seemingly the deadline for Pandora to have found an acquirer. It's starting to seem as if the most likely scenario is that Sirius XM stays away, and both KKR and Verizon come in as investors. Both scenarios would be positive to Pandora's prospects as an ongoing business, making it a compelling investment in the single digits.

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