Bertelsmann, who all but exited out of music business when it sold its portion in Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG back to Sony last year, is back in it: it is ramping up its new-ish music rights/publishing venture BMG Rights Management in a deal with PE firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR).
The venture, which holds of European back catalogs of more than 200 artists from Sony BMG days, will receive about 50 million Euros in funding from KKR near-term, and would get about 200 million euros over the next five years to finance possible acquisitions, says Reuters. With this financing, KKR will own 51 percent and Bertelsmann 49 percent. This gives the German publishing giant a faster growth vehicle than it slow-growth Random House book and Gruner+Jahr magazines businesses.
Music publishing has recently seen an influx of cash from PE shops and pension fund, while the rest of the music industry continues to be a dog. Investors like the steady income stream as music rights become a lot more valuable in the multi-platform world, across online and mobile platforms, in film, TV and commercial productions, radio and TV broadcasts, concerts or video games. Some high profile catalogs may also come on the market soon, according to FT: among them, ABKCO Music & Records, which owns songs by the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Kinks, whose owner Allen Klein died last weekend, and then continued speculation about the future of Michael Jacksons share of Sony ATV, which owns more than 250 Beatles songs, and the Mijac catalogue, which includes the singers own rights. Then there’s EMI’s publishing catalog, but the troubled owner Terra Firma is unlikely to part with the cash cow that easily.
By Rafat Ali