Sony Buys Out Michael Jackson Estate’s EMI Share For $288M


In May this year, Sony said it had reached an agreement with a consortium led by Mubadala Investment Company to acquire the 60% stake in EMI Music Publishing held by the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund. The $2.3B cash deal, which is subject to certain closing conditions and regulatory approvals, was to give Sony about 90% of the equity in the EMI catalog with the rest held by the Michael Jackson estate. In its earnings notice this morning, Sony revealed it has this month acquired the estate’s 9.8% holdings in EMI for $287.5M which will make EMI a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony.

Sony was already in the EMI business after a complex 2012 deal that gave it 30% of the music giant. It has since administered the catalogue via Sony/ATV. The library includes songs by artists like Queen, Pharrell Williams and Alicia Keys as well as the Motown catalogue.

The EMI deal will make Sony the world’s biggest music publisher and is the first major acquisition under President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida who took over from Kazuo Hirai. In announcing the deal in May, he said, “In the entertainment space, we are focusing on building a strong IP portfolio, and I believe this acquisition will be a particularly significant milestone for our long-term growth.”

The deal comes amid much movement in the music industry as streaming services see a boom. Chinese giant Tencent is mulling an IPO of its streaming service, Spotify listed on the New York Stock Exchange in April, and yesterday Vivendi said it was prepared to sell up to 50% of its massive Universal Music Group.

Sony execs on an earnings call this afternoon in Tokyo said the company had the option to buy out Mubadala from the time of the earlier 2012 transaction and that a key factor in moving ahead now is the growth of streaming. “We will capture the upside of that and will achieve major synergy. This asset is really a cash cow type of asset and low risk and low return annuity type of asset. When we made this decision, our rating was upgraded and that’s one of the indicators to see the degree of risk about this asset at this time,” said Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Hiroki Totoki.

Sony today reported Q1 earnings in the music division increased to $288M (32.1B yen). The full-year forecast is up 3% to $1B (115B yen).

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