While over 90 groups have expressed an interest in acquiring Parlophone, according to Sky News, the Financial Times reports that nine have now submitted “preliminary non-binding proposals” to buy the former EMI division.
As much previously reported, Universal Music is selling the UK-based Parlophone record label, and a number of other European sound recording catalogues, as part of its commitment to the European Commission, which green lighted the Universal/EMI merger subject to significant divestments in Europe. Universal this week opened a ‘data room’ to share information about the EMI units for sale with interested bidders.
According to the FT, amongst the nine to have already submitted informal initial proposals are Warner Music and the much discussed joint venture between XIX Entertainment’s Simon Fuller and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, which may or may not have the backing of Jacob Rothschild’s RIT Capital Partners. Ronald Perelman’s investment company MacAndrews & Forbes, which unsuccessfully bid for both Warner Music and EMI last year, is also thought to be among the nine.
BMG, a favourite to bid from the start, has reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement with Universal, but has yet to submit a proposal. It’s thought Sony Music has also expressed an interest and signed an NDA, though a Sony acquisition of Parlophone could come with its own competition regulatory issues – Sony Music being the other mega-major in the music industry, even if its sister music publishing company, Sony/ATV – recently expanded through its acquisition of the EMI publishing business – operates autonomously from the Sony record company.
Meanwhile, other bidders have also reportedly come forward interested in the smaller European EMI and Universal units that are being sold, and which could be bundled in with the bigger Parophone deal, or offloaded separately. As previously reported, there have been rumours that London-based [PIAS] is interested in Universal’s independent label services unit Co-op Music, which is amongst the planned divestments. And the FT reports that Jason Flom, head of the Universal-affiliated Lava Records, who spent a short time in a senior position at EMI, is also amongst those interested in buying one of the smaller units for sale.
It’s believed that Universal will look to have final binding offers from all parties by the end of January, with the aim of having deals done by the end of March.
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