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BMG acquires Virgin Music catalog

Publishing deal for former Sony/ATV divestments worth $90 million

In a music publishing deal estimated at $90 million, BMG has acquired the catalogs of Virgin Music, Famous UK Music and select Sony/ATV and EMI Music Publishing writers.

The 21,000 Virgin copyrights include songs by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Take That, Tears For Fears, Human League and Iggy Pop. Completion of the transaction was officially announced early Friday.

The sale was a precondition of the $2.1 billion purchase of EMI’s publishing holdings by an investor consortium led by Sony/ATV, completed in September (Daily Variety, Sept. 2).

Sony/ATV previously controlled 750,000 copyrights and accounted for more than 12% of the pubbery business.

BMG reportedly outbid such competing firms as Warner Music Group’s Warner/Chappell Music for the catalogs.

Pact is the latest publishing coup for BMG, a partnership between German media company Bertelsmann and investment firm Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts forged in 2009. The company has aggressively bought up a number of independent pub companies, including Chrysalis, Bug, Cherry Lane and Evergreen.

Prior to the acquisition, BMG claimed status as the fourth-largest international music publisher. It has shown a renewed commitment to music on the part of Bertelsmann: – the firm had previously sold its music publishing holdings to Universal Music Group’s parent Vivendi in 2006, and sold its share of the Sony-BMG label joint venture to its partner in 2008.

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said in a statement, “These catalogues contain some of the most influential and successful songs in popular music. We are delighted to have won the opportunity to represent the writers of those songs and to demonstrate to them BMG’s commitment to twenty-first century service. They have my pledge that we will do our very best to deliver for them.”

Other writers covered in the BMG purchase include Robbie Williams, Lenny Kravitz, Mark Ronson, Ozzy Osbourne and Jim Steinman. Compositions include such hits as Duffy’s “Mercy,” the Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and “Smack My Bitch Up,” Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris,” Devo’s “Whip It,” Tool’s “Aenima” and OMD’s “Enola Gay.”

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