WHAT: Wood Creek Capital Management has acquired Concord Music Group, one of the leading independent labels that owns the Stax, Fantasy and Rounder catalogs. While terms of the deal weren't disclosed, sources say Wood Creek paid between $121 million and $123 million for the label, putting in $60 million-$70 million in equity and financing the rest through debt. Wood Creek has been a player in the music business since 2006, when it began acquiring publishing assets. According to sources, Concord has annual revenue of about $90 million and produced nearly $14 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, while its publishing assets have produced about $3.7 million in net publisher's share.
WHY: Village Roadshow Entertainment Group sold Concord because it wants to concentrate on its core business of making films and needed to restructure its balance sheet. TV producer Norman Lear, a principal in Village Roadshow, rewarded Concord's management team and employees by shopping the company only to non-strategic investors. Concord's management team tells Billboard they believe now is a good time to invest in the music business and wanted to have a deep-pocketed backer that would help them achieve their growth vision, which includes possible acquisitions. If the deal had been done a few months earlier, Concord could well have been one of the bidders on Parlophone and Sanctuary, two labels sold by Universal Music Group in order to appease European Union regulators.
WHO: Wood Creek has emerged as one of the largest owners of music assets, after the three majors and BMG Rights Management. It's hard to tell whose portfolio is bigger, Wood Creek or Imagem or companies like Big Machine, Disney, Cash Money, Curb and E1 Entertainment. On a revenue basis, Disney, Big Machine and Cash Money probably are larger, but on an asset valuation basis, one knowledgeable source pegs Wood Creek's music assets of Concord, Bicycle Music and Varese Sarabande at about $350 million. Yet, because Wood Creek is a private equity investing firm, it has different investment pools that own different assets. So it's doubtful that the three assets could be combined into one entity. On the other hand, there might be a way to achieve synergies and savings, even though they're separate companies. For example, Bicycle Music could serve as administrator for Concord's publishing assets.
IF: Does Concord have the deep-pocketed backer that will help management grow the business? Yes, it probably does, but the new owner will probably take some time to get a feel for what it has acquired. Like most financial firms do when they acquire companies, Wood Creek is putting one of its people at Concord. Former Rhino Entertainment head Scott Pascucci, one of the investors in Concord, will have an office in the label's headquarters. But even with that, the Concord management team of president/CEO Glen Barros and chief marketing officer Gene Rumsey, who's also president of Concord's Prestige Group, will remain in charge.