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#201608 04/11/03 10:39 AM
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Apple Eyes Universal Music -LA Times
Fri April 11, 2003 11:26 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Computer Inc. AAPL.O is in talks with Vivendi Universal V.N to buy the Universal Music Group from the French media and entertainment company for as much as $6 billion, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.
A deal would come at a pivotal time for all the companies involved. A push into the music business would give Apple, which along with other computer makers is suffering from weak demand, new markets for its PCs, software and the iPod digital music player, analysts said.
Vivendi is seeking to cut its debt and regain investor credibility by selling assets, including its U.S. entertainment assets, which are known collectively as Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
Apple has not made a formal bid for Universal Music, which is home to artists like Jay-Z, U2 and Lucinda Williams. But it may offer $5 billion to $6 billion for the music company before Vivendi's April 29 board meeting, the Times said.
A Vivendi spokeswoman in New York would not confirm the report, but noted there has been a lot of interest in many of the company's U.S. entertainment assets, which include the music group, Universal Studios and cable networks. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Universal Music, the world's largest record company, has suffered along with the rest of the music industry amid declining sales due to the weak economy, the popularity of free music-sharing services and competition with other entertainment. Although its operating profit is down 23 percent, it still dominates the industry, with about one-quarter of all CD sales.
"It would certainly give a shot in the arm to the music industry's waking up to the digital revolution, and obviously, that's the No. 1 issue that is plaguing the industry today," said Mark May, an analyst at Kaufman Bros.
He said Cupertino, California-based Apple, along with Sony Corp.6758.T , has paved the way in digital music innovation, and said the two would be suitable partners for a music deal.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs has long been interested in the entertainment business; he is also chairman of Pixar Animation Studios PIXR.O , purveyor of such blockbusters as "Monsters Inc." and "Toy Story."
"We've heard rumors of this for a long time -- of them buying into media content,' said A.G. Edwards analyst Brett Miller. "What they want to do is add legitimacy into the media market itself."
A.G. Edwards, which rates Apple a hold, has not done any banking for the company.
Sources close to the French company have said Vivendi had been moving away from selling Universal Music, given the poor state of the music industry. However, a person familiar with the matter said that while selling the business may not have been at the forefront of its plans, Vivendi's board would likely entertain an offer it thought was serious.
One media analyst in London said a $6 billion price for Universal Music would be "extremely good." Apple had $4.4 billion in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments as of Dec. 28, 2002.



#201609 04/11/03 04:25 PM
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This is very intersting. Not surprising really.. and probably a good thing for everyone involved. It would be interesting to see Apple using their technology to give away their own product. My first impulse guess is that they would use content as a loss leader for their hardware. Could be interesting. That said, it might not be a great thing for artists/writers. But it looks like a home run for everyone else involved.

I will have to put a little more thought into this.


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#201610 04/11/03 06:58 PM
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Yup, heard this from Emagic this morning. It's a pretty cool situation I think. There is an article at the LA Times about it. I thought it was a majorly cool idea the moment I heard the news.

But, I'm amazed this announcement came out when Apple is in the midst of launching a pay for music download service that has all the major labels on board except for one. That service right there is a major coup.

I think they're also working on making this service work on Windows machines too. There is also speculation that OSX will be ported to run on intel boxes. That would also make a lot of sense for this purchase, suddenly you have a superior operating service available to the masses and a great music service to boot. Makes one go hmmm...

Derek Sivers also expressed an interest in this. He hopes it actually will happen, thinking that it would be a great thing. I have to agree. I really don't see Apple using content as a loss leader, I think Jobs understands the value of music. He's also a very forward thinker.

I also spoke to my SESAC rep about the future of copyright and how it would effect the deal. He was thinking the how content gets controlled and where the money will change based on the copyright holder. It's interesting times indeed!


Jody Whitesides
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#201611 04/12/03 07:21 AM
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I also heard that the downloads could be as low as ten cents a song. If the price is over a dollar a download it will not work as the other paysites are finding out. Anyhow it is bound to be an improvement over what the label paysites are offering at the moment.

Jody or Patrick any chance that Apple will use an AMD chip that would be faster and not the one they had developed with IBM? As a person who is getting ready to buy a new computer should I wait to buy later this fall when "Panther" comes out and with it a different processor? I'm going the laptop route.

#201612 04/13/03 04:00 AM
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Well, it seems that Apple buying Universal was too good to be true. Aparently it was all taken out of context. Vivendi is attempting to generate as much interest as they can to get rid of the music division of Universal.

It seems the talks between Apple and Vivendi were "exploratory" and did not really delve to deeply into actual aquisition.

Jeff, in answer to your question... I personally do not see Apple dumping IBM right now, not after they just dumped Motorola. One thing you have to remember is that there is more to the picture than just MHZ. Currently with the speed of a Motorla G4 chip compared to Intel or AMD goes like this (roughly): a 1 ghz G4 is about as fast as 2 ghz intel/AMD type chip. The main reason is the data pipe is shorter in the Apple chips, thus they compute more things in less time.

I believe that the new IBM chip is due to start shipping in the new computers coming around June or July.

Another thing that will be interesting is that Panther is going to be a 64bit OS. That's some serious computing there. The other thing you want to remember is that the stability of OSX is insane, I've been running it since Feb. of last year (2002) and to date I've had 2 crashes, both caused by me attempting to do something between two audio programs that they weren't meant to do (only I was thinking it was possible). This OS is so freakin stable it's sick. That alone is worth it's weight is valuable metal.


Jody Whitesides
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#201613 04/13/03 06:03 AM
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Jody, if you were me would you wait the extra four or five months and make your next computer purchase? The 15 inch powerbook with the superdrive is what I was planning on buying.

#201614 04/13/03 01:52 PM
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Jeff, I used to think about waiting to buy the next latest and greatest computer. But about a year and a half ago, I gave that thinking up. It will drive you crazy knowing you bought a computer and then a new comes out a few months later that is bigger and better.

My suggestion is buy what you think you need now, use it to it fullest capability, then when you absolutely can't use it anymore, consider buying another one.

The absolute worst time to buy a computer is at the end of the year, especially an Apple. They will always announce a new major computer 2-3 weeks into January. So my advice is to look at the current line of laptops and make the choice there. Sure there will always be an update, but again buy what you need now. Personally I want to get a 17" powerbook and if things go my way in the next month or two, I'll be able to grab one!


Jody Whitesides
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#201615 04/13/03 03:21 PM
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Hmm... where did you get your information, Jody? All the news services claim that they are talking about acquisition though it's not a done deal. Also, there's a rumor posted on Slashdot that Microsoft is saying, "Hey, we're interested, too!" Sheesh!



#201616 04/13/03 11:58 PM
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Vivendi's Music Division Struggles to Sell Itself
Monday, April 14, 2003 00:29 AM ET

In a bid to control their own destiny at a time when there are few buyers for music companies, executives at Vivendi Universal SA's (V, news) Universal Music Group have recently tried to peddle their unit themselves -- though attempts to interest Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL, news) and others in making bids have fallen flat, Monday's Wall Street Journal reported.
As Vivendi weighs the sale of all its entertainment assets -- including the Universal movie studio, theme parks and television-production group -- Universal Music executives, including Chairman Doug Morris and Interscope Geffen A&M label chief Jimmy Iovine, have been putting out feelers for possible buyers or investors but now appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach, say people familiar with the matter. Talks in recent weeks aimed at persuading Apple's Steve Jobs to bid for all or part of the giant music company haven't borne fruit and seem unlikely to proceed for now.
Apple isn't the only party that has been approached. People familiar with the matter say that Mr. Iovine, for example, has put out similar feelers to Microsoft Corp. (MSFT, news) hoping to find a friendly investor to take over Universal Music, perhaps as part of a management-led buyout. Microsoft had no comment.
The talks with Mr. Jobs grew out of negotiations that have been going on for months with all of the major record labels, in which Apple is seeking access to music for an online music service it plans to launch for users of its Macintosh computers. During Apple's talks with Universal on that front, Universal's managers pitched a bigger idea. The music unit discussed with Mr. Jobs the idea of investing about $1.5 billion in the unit in exchange for a minority stake, or even buying the whole business outright, according to executives familiar with the discussion. The effort, which was made with the blessing of Vivendi's French management, was reported Friday in the Los Angeles Times.
It isn't clear just how serious the talks with Apple became. Apple's stock Friday sank more than 8%, to $13.20 a share, in trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange, as people close to Mr. Jobs and Apple quickly sought to distance themselves from the idea. Those people insisted that Mr. Jobs was only interested in accessing music for Apple's new service, not in buying a record company.
Apple never made a formal bid. However, people familiar with the matter say that Universal Music -- whose talent roster includes Eminem, U2, Shania Twain and Nelly -- believed that Mr. Jobs showed a real interest in making the investment. These people say that Apple was aided by investment bank Morgan Stanley in early discussions, and Mr. Jobs is believed to have spoken at least once by phone with Vivendi Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou about the idea.
Apple and Universal, the world's largest music company, declined to comment. A Vivendi spokeswoman said, "There have been a number of third parties interested in Vivendi Universal entertainment assets but until such time as the company has a definitive agreement or agreements in place regarding these assets, it is going to decline comment."



#201617 04/14/03 10:50 PM
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Hey Pat, looks like you answered your own post. I got my 'inside' tip from Derek Sivers, whom was happy to inform me with an email from the NY Times. We didn't get much discussion about it on the phone, but he was certainly hoping for the optimistic stance on Apple obtaining UMG.

Since all this cropped up, I'm wishing for someone who understands bringing music back to the consumer instead of making the consumer chase the music who will purchase one of the Majors and straighten out the mess.

The problem is that most Majors are so ingrained in their methods that they may not recover if the market falls. My guess is, their business plans don't allow them to be quick on their feet. They worry too much about control & quantity and not enough about quality.


Jody Whitesides
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