Hip-hop star Jay-Z is buying a Scandinavian music streaming company for $56 million to add to a business empire that has spanned clothing and sports bars.
Project Panther Bidco Ltd, a company controlled by the 45-year-old rapper, said on Friday it had agreed to buy Sweden-listed Aspiro, which runs the music streaming services WiMP and Tidal, for 464 million Swedish crowns ($56 million) in cash.
Jay-Z, real name Shawn Corey Carter, is one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million records. Forbes estimated his net worth at $520 million last year. He told Reuters he saw Aspiro as “an innovative high-quality company with strong future growth potential.”
The move will inevitably provoke speculation that the rapper is joining Taylor Swift in challenging the dominance of music streaming service Spotify, although Jay-Z didn’t immediately say anything that suggested a Swift-style open confrontation was on the cards.
Married to pop star Beyonce, Jay-Z has had a number of business interests, including 40/40 Club sports bars, Rocawear clothing and sports agency Roc Nation Sports (as well as champagne maker Armand de Brignac).
His mix of music and entrepreneurial interests mirrors that of other rappers, including De Dre, who sold his Beats headphones business to Apple Inc. (AAPL), and 50 Cent, who sold his vitamin water business to Coca-Cola Co. (KO).
Project Panther said it had followed the development of Aspiro for some time, believing it to be “an innovative high-quality company with strong future growth potential”.
Norwegian media house Schibsted (SBSNY), which indirectly owns a 76% stake in Aspiro, said it had accepted the offer, while Aspiro’s board said it was united in recommending the bid, virtually ensuring its success.