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Amazon pulls into lead to acquire podcaster Wondery

Apple and Sony Music each held talks about potentially acquiring the company, which produces shows such as “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death.”

FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is pictured outside the company's JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: The Amazon logo is pictured outside the company's JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo (REUTERS)

Amazon.com Inc. is in exclusive talks to acquire podcasting company Wondery Inc. for more than $300 million, the Wall Street Journal reported, following a bidding process that also drew interest from the likes of Apple Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment.

The takeover talks are ongoing and could fall apart, the Journal said, citing unidentified people familiar with the discussions.

Bloomberg first reported that Wondery was exploring a sale in September. And Apple and Sony Music each held talks about potentially acquiring the company, which produces shows such as “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death.” The podcasting firm has sought a price of $300 million to $400 million, people familiar with the matter have said.

Amazon and Wondery declined to comment.

Amazon already has a dominant position in audiobooks, thanks to its Audible division, and it’s been looking to push further into podcasts and other nonmusic audio. The Seattle-based company has commissioned programs from best-selling authors and celebrities, emerging as one of the biggest backers of original audio shows.

Though Spotify Technology SA has been the most aggressive buyer of podcasting companies over the last two years, the Swedish audio giant decided not to bid on Wondery.

Wondery is seeking to capitalize on a wave of deals in the podcasting industry. Spotify spent hundreds of millions snapping up companies like Ringer and Gimlet Media in the past couple years, and Sirius XM Holdings Inc. acquired Stitcher.

Founded in 2016 by former TV executive Hernan Lopez, Wondery has produced some of the most popular podcasts over the past few years. Revenue is expected to surge past $40 million in 2020, a person familiar with the matter has said.

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