Investment firm Rizvi Traverse Management, which has various existing interests in the entertainment industry (including co-ownership of the Playboy empire), has acquired a 75% majority stake in the smaller of the American publishing rights collecting organisations, SESAC, which unlike ASCAP and BMI, is a commercial entity rather than a not-for-profit organisation.
SESAC’s existing owners had been toying with selling some or all of the company for a while, but reportedly engaged bankers just under a year ago to approach possible buyers. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Rizvi Traverse deal was worth $600 million, though it’s not clear if that’s what it has paid for its 75% stake, or whether that is a valuation of SESAC in its entirety, and the investment firm therefore has paid $450 million. $600 million for just three quarters of SESAC would seem a lot, given word had it the organisation was being valued in the region $500 million a year ago.
According to Billboard, it’s also not known whether the deal means that some of the collecting society’s existing owners have been bought out of the company completely, or whether they have all equally diluted their shareholdings, and therefore share the remaining 25% between them. Songwriters represented by SESAC include Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Rush and Robert Johnson.