Business News Deals EMI Sale Timeline Labels & Publishers Top Stories

Universal completes EMI divestments with Now! and Co-op deals

By | Published on Wednesday 27 February 2013


Universal Music has sold off the final of the assets it agreed to divest as part of its agreement with European regulators when it bought the EMI record company last year.

The mega-major confirmed this evening that EMI’s European stake in the Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation series had been sold to Sony Music. Meanwhile sources close to the asset sale have told CMU that a deal has also now been completed regarding Co-Operative Music, the label services business Universal acquired when it bought the European side of the Virgin Group-founded V2 record company in 2007, which has gone to [PIAS].

Universal agreed to sell off in the region of two-thirds of EMI’s European assets in order to get the all clear for its controversial takeover, as well as some of its own periphery units in Europe. The majority of the assets for sale went in one big deal with Warner Music, while BMG picked up the Sanctuary catalogues.

As for the final two deals, London-based independent [PIAS] was an early favourite to acquire Co-op, and Sony Music had been linked to the Now! stake since earlier this month.

Commenting on the latter deal, Sony Music’s CEO of International Edgar Berger, told CMU: “Now! is one of the most famous and successful brands in music. We are delighted to have acquired EMI’s interests in the Now! brand in Europe and will work with Universal Music and our other partners across the industry to build the next chapter in Now’s history”.

All the deals are still subject to the approval of European regulators. But while Sony getting the Now! stake may ruffle some feathers – the Sony publishing company Sony/ATV having already won control of EMI Music Publishing as part of the sale of the former British major – insiders expect the deals to be cleared, not least because the biggest, with Warner, has the formal support of the indie label community, who are most vocal on these matters.

Assuming all deals are approved, and that could happen within a month, Universal will net in the region of £600 million from the asset sale, not far off half what it paid for the EMI record company outright, despite keeping nearly two-thirds of the business worldwide, including the all-important Beatles catalogue.

Commenting on the Now! deal with Sony and the various EMI divestments, Max Hole, CEO of Universal Music International, told CMU: “This sale, along with our previous transactions, not only satisfies our agreement with the European Commission, but further demonstrates the value we have been able to unlock through the targeted divestment of quality assets. Moreover, we are pleased to partner with Sony [on Now], a company that recognises the cultural importance of this long-standing British institution”.

Retrace the EMI sale story from the start with this CMU timeline.

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