Sony/ATV – the music publishing company jointly owned by Sony Corp and the Michael Jackson estate – has confirmed its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, or rather that it is leading a consortium which will take ownership of that side of the EMI Group. The announcement came late last night, just hours after Vivendi’s Universal Music Group confirmed it had bought the EMI record companies.
Sony’s consortium also includes the Mubadala Development Company PJSC, Jynwel Capital Limited, the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners LP and David Geffen, and together they will pay $2.2 billion (about £1.35 billion). Because Sony/ATV will not own EMI Publishing outright the company will stay an autonomous entity, but will be managed by Sony/ATV.
Confirming the acquisition, Sony Corp’s Rob Wiesenthal told reporters: “EMI Music Publishing is an iconic company with legendary copyrights and world-class executive talent. This transaction reinforces our strategy of building the operational breadth of Sony/ATV Music Publishing while tapping the extraordinary expertise and experience of Marty Bandier and his management team. Access to entertainment content is an important part of a great consumer electronics experience, and the impressive growth of digital music services will help us bring our songwriters’ music to an increasingly wide audience”.
Meanwhile Marty Bandier, CEO of Sony/ATV, and a former CEO of the EMI publishing business, added: “EMI Music Publishing has some of the best songs and artists in the world. I am excited to be reunited with the incredible songs, writers and people of a company I helped build. Our track record at Sony/ATV over the past four years demonstrates our ability to build a strong platform that sustains significant growth. The opportunity represented by this transaction is both transformative for Sony/ATV and a truly special moment for me, personally”.
For the EMI board and current owners Citigroup, Stephen Volk, said: “After evaluating all alternatives, we believe that this transaction achieves our objective of maximizing the value of EMI for Citi while providing EMI Music Publishing with a partner in the Sony consortium that appreciates this wonderful business, its incredible roster of songwriters both new and old, and its staff who work so hard to deliver successful outcomes for the people they represent. We are grateful to Roger Faxon, his management team and all of EMI’s staff for the continued success of this business during Citi’s ownership”.
As much previously reported, the KKR-backed BMG had been favourite to get the EMI publishing catalogues for sometime, though in recent weeks it became clear Sony/ATV – by securing financing from third parties – was also very much in the running. That it had won the race to acquire the EMI songs business was confirmed unofficially by insiders yesterday afternoon, before the official statement late last night. With Sony the second biggest operator in the music industry, this deal – as with the Universal deal – will be subject to competition regulator approval, and pan-European indie label trade body IMPALA is set to oppose both acquisitions in Brussels.