Warner Music International has entered into a joint venture that will give the company a strategic foothold in the South African market, allowing it to capitalize on local talent both at home and inte

Warner Music International has entered into a joint venture that will give the company a strategic foothold in the South African market, allowing it to capitalize on local talent both at home and internationally.

Through the tie-up, unveiled today (May 22), WMI will join with South African publishing and entertainment company Johncom and its subsidiary Gallo Music, the country's largest independent record label. Gallo remains as a separate structure within WMGA, releasing Gallo product. Until now, Gallo has been WMI's licensee for the South African market.

The new joint venture, Warner Music Gallo Africa, will have worldwide digital rights to Gallo Music's domestic repertoire, whose 80-year-old archive includes works by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lucky Dube, Pro-Kid, Lusanda Spiritual Group, Thandiswa and Simphiwe Dana. The agreement represents the first time Gallo's catalog has been made digitally available.

All WMI physical product will be handled in South Africa through WMGA, which will also be the licensee for the major's roster of international acts in Sub-Saharan Africa. WMI will distribute the WGMA roster internationally.

"Such a powerful combination will place WMGA at the forefront of South Africa's vibrant music scene," WMI says in a statement, "at a time when the country's economic growth and adoption of new entertainment technologies is opening the door to myriad future opportunities."

Ivor Haarburger, CEO Gallo Music Group, will add duties as CEO of WMGA. Based in Johannesburg, Haarburger will report to Gerolamo Caccia, COO Warner Music International, and Prakash Desai, Johncom Deputy CEO.

Johncom is in the process of extending its reach into Sub-Saharan Africa, with plans to open new retail outlets alongside its established operations in Nigeria and Kenya.

In a statement, Desai said the deal with Warner was "in line with the strategy to replace licence arrangements with equity relationships." He added: "We are confident of growing the business in Africa within the joint venture."