Bloomberg News

Universal Music Said to Plan Sale of Three Music Catalogs

March 27, 2012

Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music Group plans to sell three music-publishing catalogs ahead of its EMI acquisition, said a person with knowledge of the situation.

Universal Music hired Bank of America (BAC:US)Merrill Lynch (MER:US) to sell classical, Christian and German schlager catalogs, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to talk publicly. A sale may raise as much as $200 million, the person said.

Universal Music, the world’s biggest record company, said in November it would sell non-strategic assets to help finance its $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI’s recorded music business from Citigroup Inc. Universal Music also plans to sell real estate holdings in France and Germany that are leased to other companies, the person said.

Representative for Universal and Vivendi couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The music catalogs have drawn 12 bidders including KKR & Co.-controlled BMG Rights Management, according to The Financial Times, which reported the decision earlier today.

Vivendi today rose 0.3 percent to 14.06 euros in Paris trading at 9:44 a.m. The stock has declined 17 percent this year. Universal Music, based in Santa Monica, California, is seeking U.S. and European approvals to complete its EMI acquisition.

Regulatory Probe

Citigroup Inc. (C:US) agreed to sell EMI Group’s recorded-music and publishing businesses in separate transactions for a combined $4.1 billion. Universal will buy EMI’s record labels, home to Katy Perry and Coldplay. A Sony Corp.-led group that includes billionaire David Geffen said it will pay $2.2 billion for the publishing unit.

Universal faces an in-depth probe by European Union antitrust regulators amid concerns the EMI deal may harm competition.

The European Commission extended its deadline to rule on the deal until Aug. 8, to examine it in greater detail, according to an e-mailed statement last week.

Warner Music Group, an unsuccessful bidder for EMI, will lobby in the U.S. and Europe against the sale of the company to Universal, retiring Chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. has said.

The commission’s initial investigation into the merger showed that the combined firm would be “almost twice the size of the next largest player” on the EU market, the regulator said March 23.

Impala, a group of independent record labels, has said EU regulators should block both the Vivendi deal as well as Sony’s bid for the music publishing unit because they would increase prices and reduce competition in the music industry.

To contact the reporters on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net


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