Jay Z’s ambitions to rival Spotify with a music streaming service of his own have been dealt a blow, with news that his attempt to buy Swedish company Aspiro could be blocked.
In January rapper Jay Z bid $56m for Aspiro, which owns streaming service WiMP and Tidal. The board had recommended that shareholders approve the deal but minority shareholders owning 10 per cent of shares are set to reject the deal, according to Swedish paper Dagens Industri.
It would not be the first time that minority shareholders have blocked a takeover of Aspiro. Norwegian media group Schibsted, Aspiro’s majority investor, tried to buy the company in 2012 but was blocked by investors, who organised themselves under the banner of Aspiro Shareholders Association.
Sune Karlsson, chairman of the association, told Dagens Industri: “We will recommend our members say no to the offer. We have accumulated more than 10 per cent of the owners, which is enough to block it.”
Karlsson and the association believe Jay Z’s bid, made through vehicle Project Panther Bidco, undervalues Aspiro despite the fact that the offer carries a 59 per cent premium. Aspiro’s board urged the rebel shareholders to reconsider, with chairman Fredrik Bjørland telling website The Next Web: “We still believe the offer is attractive for both the company and its shareholders.”
Aspiro’s services, WiMP and Tidal, pitch themselves to more committed music fans than Spotify, offering interviews with artists and lossless playback. WiMP had 580,000 paying members as of June last year. Project Panther hailed the business as “an innovative high-quality company with strong future growth potential” when it announced its bid.