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Rodgers & Hammerstein show tunes catalog for sale

A Broadway street sign hangs in New York's Time's Square, November 29, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization is in talks to sell its catalog of Broadway musical show tunes and standards to major music companies for between $150 million and $200 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

EMI Music Publishing, Sony Corp’s Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Vivendi’s Universal Music Publishing and Warner Music Group Corp’s Warner/Chappell Music Publishing are all looking over the catalog, which includes songs from shows including “The Sound of Music,” “The King and I” and “South Pacific.”

The catalog includes over 3,000 songs by founder songwriters Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and nearly 100 other writers like Irving Berlin and Lorenz Hart.

The company is said to be looking for more than $250 million, according to the people who spoke with Reuters on condition of anonymity. But several of these people expressed doubt that music company bids for Rodgers & Hammerstein would go higher than $200 million.

The Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog has also attracted interest from hedge funds and private equity companies, which are attracted to song publishing assets as a source of regular cash flows through song licensing.

Rodgers & Hammerstein spokesman Bert Fink declined to comment on the matter.

Publishing companies can make new revenue from catalog assets by licensing show tunes for use in a range of outlets such as advertising, video and television, in a process known as synchronization.

“This catalog has not been exploited to its full potential,” said one person.

Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Gerald E. McCormick