Pandora Gets Sirius Suitor to Put a Ring On It

Pandora goes public at the New York Stock Exchange in 2011

Pandora went public on the NYSE in 2011. (Photo: Ramin Railai / Bloomberg)

It’s official. Sirius has reached an agreement to invest $480 million in Pandora, purchasing a 19 percent stake in the streaming music service. The satellite radio service had been circling Pandora for some time, prompting rumors of an outright purchase.

This agreement, which will take weeks to conclude, is the best of both worlds for Padora, guaranteeing the upstart music discovery service its autonomy, while providing a much-needed cash infusion.

Under terms of the deal, Sirius is prohibited from purchasing more Pandora shares for 18 months, and is also capped at a  31.5 percent stake in Pandora, requiring the approval of Pandora’s board to go beyond that. Sirius gets three of Pandora’s nine board seats, including the chairman’s slot.

“This strategic investment in Pandora represents a unique opportunity for SiriusXM to create value for its stockholders by investing in the leader in the ad-supported digital radio business, a space where SiriusXM does not play today,” SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer said in a statement issued today. Pandora board member Tim Leiweke concurred, commenting that the investment brings “significant capital to accelerate growth” to “the next stage of the company’s lifecycle.”

Pandora has a user base of 76.7 million who mainly tune-in for customized playlists generated using proprietary algorithms that curate based on listener tastes. For the sophistication of its home-brew software, Pandora is truly a techno gem that Spotify or any other partner is luck to land in whole or part. The company went public, closing with a stock price of $17. 42, for a valuation of $2.3 billion in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange June 15, 2011. Today the stock is at about $8.50 per share, up about 5 percent in early trading.

The agreement with Sirius sees Pandora terminating previous negotiations for private equity firm KKR to buy $150 million in Pandora preferred stock. The preferred stock now goes to Sirius, with an attractive 6 percent cumulative cash dividend. The KKR severance comes with a $22.5 million termination fee, according to TechCrunch.

Pandora has been wobbly getting on its feet as a major player in the new digital music economy, first attempting to diversify, but now seeming to refocus on its core business; the company today announced it will sell Ticketfly to Eventbrite for $200 million, less than half the $450 million paid for the ticketing service in 2015.

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