Pandora Media shares surged more than 3 percent Friday on speculation that founder and CEO Tim Westergren might be prepping a sale of the company.
The struggling music-streaming service delayed a deadline for nominating dissident board directors to March 17 from this week — a move some investors interpreted as signaling a possible deal.
Shareholder support for a takeover is now so high that BTIG analyst Greenfield predicted in a Thursday research note that, without a sale, CEO Westergren risks losing his board seat at the company’s annual meeting.
Also calling for a sale is Keith Meister of Corvex Management, which owns about 10 percent of Pandora.
Last May, in a blistering letter to the company’s board, the former Carl Icahn protege urged the radio streamer to hire an investment bank to assess takeover interest.
Pandora tried to placate Meister by retaining Centerview Partners to weigh strategic options. Nevertheless, Pandora rejected an informal $15-a-share offer from SiriusXM Radio over the summer.
The stock has since languished below $13, closing Friday at $12.78 even with its bullish bump.
Sirius, with the backing of majority owner Liberty Media, is still considered the most likely partner for Pandora — a deal that would combine Pandora’s 81 million users with Sirius’ automobile-dominant 31.3 million subscribers.
But Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei indicated on Tuesday that no deal was imminent.
“Interesting asset,” he said of Pandora during Liberty’s earnings call. “But not clear the valuation makes sense — full stop.”
Greenfield’s research note took aim at founder Westergren with the headline, “You Have Failed, Why Are You Not Selling Pandora Now.”
The analyst blasted Pandora’s plans to buttress its ad-supported free offering and its $4.99-a-month Pandora Plus with a subscription service for $10 a month.
“Launching a subscription music service in direct competition with Spotify, Apple, Amazon and YouTube is foolhardy and risks straining their balance sheet,” Greenfield wrote.
Meister couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday, but in a CNBC interview in October he called Pandora “a hugely valuable piece of property for someone who wants to win in the music business.”