Sony to buy Michael Jackson's 50 per cent stake in music publisher

Sony is paying $1.03 billion to buy out the late pop singer Michael Jackson’s share in Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
Sony is paying $1.03 billion to buy out the late pop singer Michael Jackson’s share in Sony/ATV Music Publishing.PHOTO: REUTERS

Sony Corp said it signed an agreement with Michael Jackson's estate to buy for US$750 million (S$1.03 billion) the late pop star's stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing - the world's largest music publisher which controls songs such as The Beatles' All You Need Is Love.

As part of the agreement, Sony will make a lump-sum payment of about US$733 million for Jackson's 50 per cent stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing as well as future distributions, according to a statement.

The deal establishes Sony's control over the joint venture that Jackson and Sony formed in 1995.

It consolidates Sony's control over a catalogue of almost four million songs as music industry revenues increasingly shift to subscription services offered by Apple, YouTube and Spotify.

In September, Sony exercised a right in its contract with the Jackson estate that allowed one partner to buy out the other.

"This acquisition will enable Sony to more quickly adapt to changes in the music publishing business," chief executive of Sony Entertainment Michael Lynton said.

Sony/ATV controls many popular songs such as All You Need Is Love, Moon River and The Mission Impossible theme, as well as representing the copyrights of musicians such as Bob Dylan, Queen and The Rolling Stones.

Sony said the company and the singer's estate expect to execute a definitive agreement by March 31.

In October, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sony was moving ahead with a plan to sell its half of Sony/ATV Music Publishing and estimated the publisher's value at US$2 billion.

The estate of Jackson, who died in June 2009 at age 50, will continue to have interests in the music industry.

Those include all of the pop star's master recordings and the publishing company that owns all the songs he wrote.

The estate will also retain its interest in EMI Music Publishing.

"This transaction further allows us to continue our efforts of maximising the value of Michael's Estate for the benefit of his children," said Mr John Branca and Mr John McClain, co-executors of the estate.

The catalogue was bought in 1985 for US$41.5 million, they said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Sony to buy Michael Jackson's 50 per cent stake in music publisher'. Print Edition | Subscribe