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Francisco Partners acquires majority stake in Kobalt

By | Published on Thursday 8 September 2022


Private equity firm Francisco Partners has confirmed it is acquiring a majority stake in Kobalt, though the current management team at the music publishing company will remain in place following the takeover, and they say that the plan is to plough on with their “mission of being a positive transformative force for the benefit of all creators”. Lovely stuff.

It’s thought that Francisco, which is a mainly tech-focused fund, will control around 90% of the Kobalt business once various regulatory hurdles have been crossed. That business has two main strands to it, the core Kobalt song rights administration company and the digital licensing focused collecting society AMRA.

Kobalt previously sold off the song catalogues that had been acquired by its Kobalt Capital investment wing, and also the recordings side of its operation – the AWAL distributor and a neighbouring rights admin agency – both of which were bought by Sony Music.

The remaining 10% of Kobalt will seemingly be split between three investors – first founder Willard Ahdritz; second Dundee Partners, which was also involved in acquiring one of the song catalogues previously sold by Kobalt Capital; and Music, the music investment outfit founded by Matt Pincus.

Pincus is also known in the music industry as the founder of Songs, the one-time independent music publisher that sold its catalogue in 2017 to, oh look, Kobalt Capital. With his new business becoming a minority shareholder in Kobalt he will also get a seat on the board.

Ahdritz, who will remain in place as Chair of the Kobalt company, says of the big deal: “Having known the team at Francisco Partners for two years, I am excited to invite them into the Kobalt family. I look forward to working with them as Kobalt Chairman”.

“This backing is a testament to what we’ve built at Kobalt, and we will continue working to improve the industry for our clients”, he goes on. “I would also like to make a special point to thank all those who believed in Kobalt from the start: investors, clients and employees, who all contributed to building this great company, thereby changing the game for creators”.

Also staying in place at the company is CEO Laurent Hubert, COO Jeannette Perez, CFO Catrin Drabble and CTO Nuno Guerreiro. Says Hubert: “Kobalt has been an agent of change and innovator for the past 20 years, and as a result, we have built an extraordinary brand and creative destination for the best creators in the world”.

“We look forward to working with Francisco Partners to embark on Kobalt’s next innovation chapter”, he continues. “The combination of FP’s expertise in technology and our deep understanding of the music industry will ensure that Kobalt expands its reach and impact as a global music publisher. Our mission of being a positive transformative force for the benefit of all creators continues”.