Sony has agreed a $2.3 billion (£1.7bn) deal to acquire a controlling stake in EMI Music Publishing.
EMI owns or administers more than two million songs including classics by Queen, Carole King and the Motown catalogue, along with contemporary songs from Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Drake, Sam Smith, Pink, Pharrell Williams, Calvin Harris, Fetty Wap, Hozier and Sia.
The deal with Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company will see EMI become a consolidated subsidiary of Sony.
Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO, Sony Corporation said: "We are thrilled to bring EMI Music Publishing into the Sony family and maintain our number one position in the music publishing industry. I would also like to convey my gratitude to Mubadala, our equity partner in EMI Music Publishing, for sharing our long-term perspective on the potential success of music publishing and their support as we grew the business.
"The music business has enjoyed a resurgence over the past couple of years, driven largely by the rise of paid subscription-based streaming services. 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.”
Mubadala Capital’s private equity business has controlled and managed EMI Music Publishing on behalf of Mubadala and other third-party investors since 2012. The Sony-led consortium had bought EMI's publishing assets for $2.2 billion in 2012, while the British company's recorded music arm was sold to Universal. That the deal for Mubadala's stake now cost more than the 2012 deal shows the soaring value of publishing as the music business recovers on the back of a streaming boom.
Hani Barhoush, head of Mubadala Capital, said: “EMI has been a successful investment for Mubadala and I would like to personally extend my appreciation to the leadership at Sony and Sony/ATV, who have been instrumental in administering the EMI catalogue as well as shaping the music landscape on a global basis. They have been tremendous partners to us.”
Adib Mattar, head of private equity for Mubadala Capital and chairman of EMI Music Publishing, said: “EMI Music Publishing represents one of the world’s largest and most diverse catalogue of copyrights with iconic songs that span every decade over the last 100 years.
"Writers and artists only stand to benefit under consolidated ownership and should feel proud to be part of the Sony family. The sale of our consortium’s interest in EMI Music Publishing represents a milestone for Mubadala and our private equity business.”
The acquisition will further boost Sony's grip on music publishing, with Sony/ATV already the market leader and winner of the Publisher Of The Year award at the 2018 Music Week Awards. In 2016, Sony/ATV CEO Martin Bandier told Music Week that the publisher was ready to "buy big" again, although it has largely been frustrated in its attempts to acquire major publishing assets since. Earlier this year he told Music Week that Sony/ATV had kicked the tyres on sales such as Imagem and Songs, later bought by Concord and Kobalt Capital respectively.
"Who wouldn’t want The Weeknd to be part of your repertoire of artists?" Bandier said. "But we were nowhere close. Kobalt seems to have a penchant for spending a tremendous amount of money. They raise money all the time and maybe they’re obliged to spend it. We’re not a philanthropic organisation, we’re in business.”
To read Music Week's recent Sony/ATV cover story, click here.