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Universal to purchase Sanctuary

$205 million bid for music group

The struggling Sanctuary Group, a music management and label based in London, was purchased Friday by Universal Music Group for $205 million, putting UMG in the artist management biz for the first time.

Sanctuary’s board accepted a 20 pence (40¢) per share offer from Universal, which puts the sale price at $87.6 million. In addition, UMG assumed Sanc-tuary’s debt, resulting in the much higher purchase price.

Key for Universal Music is the acquisition of Sanctuary’s merchandising and live agency businesses.

“The Sanctuary business will be a good strategic fit for us,” Universal Music Group chairman-CEO Doug Morris said in a statement. “We have a great oppor-tunity to strengthen and advance Sanctuary’s position as a significant player in artist management, agency and merchandising, as consumers’ appetite for music grows worldwide.”

Sanctuary’s management clients include James Blunt, the Who, Robert Plant, ZZ Top, Slipknot, Fleetwood Mac, Jane’s Addiction, Tommy Lee and Elton John. Company books tours for more than 200 acts, including Amy Winehouse, Avril Lavigne, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dido, Dixie Chicks, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings of Leon and Pet Shop Boys.

Sanctuary chairman Robert Ayling said the deal would “allow the Sanctuary business to benefit from the already well-established relationships between Sanc-tuary and Universal and from a more supportive capital structure, which is in the future interests of artists and employees.”

The transaction must be approved by competition authorities, but industry observers do not believe there will be any objections and the takeover should be completed within two months.

In the first half of the year, Sanctuary narrowed its losses to $13.04 million from $52.77 million a year earlier.

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