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BMG buys Sanctuary Records catalog

Deal comes after music giant lost bid for EMI's Parlophone

Continuing to build its library of masters, BMG has signed an agreement to purchase Universal Music Group’s Sanctuary Records catalog.

The acquisition, reportedly valued at $62.5 million and subject to regulatory approval, follows the German company’s unsuccessful attempt to buy the Parlophone labels from UMG. Warner Music Group prevailed in that auction, picking up the assets for $765 million earlier this month (Daily Variety, Feb. 8).

Divestment of both Sanctuary and Parlophone was mandated by European regulators overseeing last year’s acquisition of EMI’s label assets by UMG.

Friday’s move by BMG brings a diverse catalog of more than 170,000 recordings into the fold. Sanctuary’s holdings include albums by Black Sabbath, the Kinks, Iron Maiden, the Damned, X-Ray Spex, Sham 69, the Fall, the Sex Pistols, Donovan, Pentangle and Steeleye Span. They also include the massive Trojan Records catalog of classic reggae, including tracks by Bob Marley and the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and Lee “Scratch” Perry.

With Sanctuary sold, the only remaining assets in UMG’s divestment package are Co-Op Music and EMI’s share of the “Now That’s What I Call Music!” series. Both are expected to find buyers within the next two or three weeks.

Other interested buyers in Sanctuary included Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and the joint venture from Simon Fuller and Chris Blackwell, as well as a number if indies including Tommy Boy. All are also believed to be interested in the remaining divestments as well.

In partnership with investment firm Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts, BMG has been on an acquisition binge over the last four years.

The company has snapped up a number of independent music publishers (which reside under the BMG Chrysalis handle), and has lately been active in purchasing masters, picking up the Mute Records catalog from UMG in December (Daily Variety, Dec. 24). Last Tuesday, BMG released a new Bryan Ferry album, “The Jazz Age.”

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said in a statement, “We have made no secret of our ambition to create a new force in the music industry focused on delivering service and revenue to artists. We believe this deal will be good news for (Sanctuary’s) artists, good news for our partners particularly in the independent sector and good news for the music industry as a whole.”

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