Disney eyeing indie music publisher

In a deal that could fetch as much as $190 million, Windswept Pacific, the music publisher behind numerous hits such as “Mony, Mony,” “Shout” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” has been put up for sale. The pricetag is one of the largest ever for an indie publisher.

Warner-Chappell, EMI Music and Walt Disney are the front-runners to land Windswept, which also boasts hits sung by Rod Stewart and John Mellencamp in its catalog of thousands of song copyrights.

Windswept co-owner the Fujisankei Corp. wants to cash out after 11 years in business. The firm invested $25 million with industry vets Chuck Kaye and Joel Sill to start the music publishing firm, one of the last independents in the business. Fujisankei set a March 30 deadline for the sale.

Warner-Chappell’s and EMI’s interest in Windswept had been expected. Less than two years ago, EMI plunked down $150 million for half of Jobete Music, the publishing arm of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. Both publishing industry behemoths are eager to expand their holdings.

Disney is serious

But the entry of Disney into the talks — the three firms all recently began due-diligence inquiries into Windswept’s record keeping — suggest just how serious the conglom is about beefing up its music portfolio.

Still, Disney is running as a dark horse in the race, since EMI could very well write one big check to land the catalog.

Windswept, which went on an acquisition spree shortly after opening its doors, landed former Roulette Records chief Morris Levy’s Big Seven Music as its first purchase.

Big Seven boasted such nuggets as “Mony, Mony,” “Shout,” and the Frankie Lyman warbled and penned hit “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.”

Windswept’s revenues are also generated from several Stewart-sung tunes, including “Maggie May” and “Hot Legs,” Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” and “Hurts So Good,” among others, and the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.” The company earns $500,000 a year in revenues from Santana’s “Oye Como Va” (penned by Tito Puente) through its use in films and TV commercials.

‘Booty’ bucks big

Windswept, run by vet Evan Meadow, also has K.C. and the Sunshine Band hits “That’s the Way I Like It” and “Shake Your Booty,” which are also big bill payers, in addition to several Eddie Money chart toppers.

Before Windswept, Kaye held a number of publishing chief posts, including stints with Geffen and A&M. He recently cashed out and returned to the Geffen fold as chief of DreamWorks’ music publishing arm.

Sill, a former studio music chief (Paramount, Warner Bros.) perhaps best known for putting hit songs into Taylor Hackford films, also cashed out. He was also a partner in that helmer’s production company.

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