Friday, December 21, 2012

BMG Beats Warner/Chappell to 'New Wave'-Heavy EMI Publishing Divestitures for $90 Million

BMG successfully outbid Warner/Chappell to win control of nearly 30,000 songs divested by EMI, including popular UK '80s hits from acts like Tears for Fears and Culture Club.

The catalogs -- which were sold for around $90 million, according to sources -- were put up for sale as part of the regulatory conditions for Sony/ATV Music Publishing's taking control of EMI Music Publishing in June. BMG and Warner Music Group's Warner/Chappell were the last two bidders standing after other bidders were weeded out in earlier rounds. An announcement is expected Friday.

Warner/Chappell, which is run by rising star Cameron Strang, stayed focused on what it believed was an appropriate valuation for the assets, a source told Billboard. Under the ownership of billionaire Len Blavatnik, WMG has said it will remain disciplined on valuations in asset bids. It missed out on buying the EMI Group last year after it refused to offer more than Universal Music Group and Sony/ATV Publishing's bids.

The assets BMG won, dubbed the "Rosetta catalog," include Virgin Music Publishing UK, Virgin Europe, Virgin US, and Famous Music UK, and  works by leading authors such as Gary Barlow, Ozzy Osbourne, Robbie Williams, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Placebo and the Kooks.

The reason why it had to make the buyers divest some assets is because "post transaction, the merged entity would have fully or partially owned publishing rights in more than half of chart hits in the UK and Ireland. Such market power would have likely affected customers' ability to license music not only in these countries but also at multi-territorial and pan-European levels."

BMG, which is a joint venture between German media giant Bertelsmann and private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), has been steadily building up its publishing assets since being set up in 2007.

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