Sony Initiates Effort To Sell Music Publishing Stake – Or Buy More: Report

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Sony could collect a cool $2 billion from the sale of its 50% stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing — the No. 1 music publisher whose copyright collection includes songs by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams and Marvin Gaye — the Wall Street Journal says.

Or it could end up with the whole thing.

The company co-owns the publishing operation with the estate of Michael Jackson and recently triggered a provision that enables one of them to sell to the other in a private transaction. The Journal says that the company has not yet set a price for its stake.

There’s no word on whether a transaction might include Sony/ATV’s interest in EMI Music Publishing, which has the Motown catalog. In 2012 Sony/ATV paid $320 million for 40% of the property as part of a consortium that included David Geffen, Mubadala Development Company PJSC, Jynwel Capital and the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners.

Sony declined comment.

Music publishing is a dependable source of cash for Sony. In this year’s Q2 it generated about $148.7 million in revenue, up 9.6% from the period in 2014.

Jackson paid $47.5 million in 1985 for ATV Music Publishing, which owned the copyrights to more than 200 songs written by The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In 1995 he merged it with Sony’s music publishing company.

Some of the Sony emails hacked last year mentioned the company’s possible interest in selling its music publishing stake.

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