| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Universal Music Group, the world's
largest music company, said on Friday it closed its $2.19
billion acquisition of BMG Music Publishing, which means it can
begin to sell off some European publishing rights as directed
European regulators cleared the deal earlier this week
after Universal, owned by French media group Vivendi, agreed to
sell off the European rights to a group of high- profile
The catalogues that must be divested are Zomba UK, 19
Music, 19 Songs, BBC music publishing and Rondor UK, which hold
the European publishing rights to Justin Timberlake, R.Kelly,
Kaiser Chiefs and other artists.
After the acquisition, Universal Music Publishing Group
becomes the largest music publisher in the world and has access
to thousands of song rights by artists, including Coldplay,
Christina Aguilera and Barry Manilow. These add to songs penned
by the likes of Mariah Carey, Paul Simon, Prince and Ludacris.
Music companies around the world are struggling with
dwindling recorded music sales as consumers move from buying
compact discs to digital songs. Rampant piracy in both physical
and digital formats has also had a debilitating effect on sales
in recent years.
But music publishing is increasingly coveted by investors
who like its steady cash flow and stability. Unlike other parts
of the music business, music publishing is less reliant on the
vagaries of consumer habits as revenues can also come from
diverse sources, such as live-play, television, radio and
advertising among others.
Major record companies, including Sony BMG Music
Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Warner Music
Group's Warner/Chappell Publishing have all talked about
growing their repertoire of songs rights.
In the week since the third-largest music company, EMI
Group Plc, opened its books to potential buyers, investors have
shown great interest in EMI Music Publishing, previously the
biggest music publisher before Universal bought BMG Publishing.