BMG Rights Management (BMG) has agreed to acquire Stage Three Music, a leading independent, international music publisher based in London, from its shareholders Apax Partners, Ingenious Ventures and the management.

Stage Three was founded in 2003 and run by Steve Lewis, a former Virgin Records deputy managing director, managing director Virgin Music Publishing and CEO of the music division of Chrysalis. Its U.S. offices in Los Angeles and Nashville are run by U.S. president Lionel Conway, former President of Island Music, Polygram Music Inc. and Maverick Music Inc.

"Stage Three is BMG's third investment of a significant size made in 2010 and follows the acquisition of Cherry Lane and the Adage IV catalog in the U.S.," said BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch in a statement.

BMG declined to disclose terms of the acquisition.

It is little more than 18 months since BMG Rights Management launched in Berlin, and it has established a presence in eight core music markets and represents the rights of more than 100,000 songs and recordings. It has offices in Munich, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, London, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Stockholm and Hilversum in the Netherlands.

Company sources said executives believe the company is at No. 5 in terms of market share of the worldwide music publishing market. BMG Rights Management has signed 400 deals - acquisitions of companies, catalogs and sub-publishing partnerships - in the last 12 months.

Stage Three holds the rights for more than 18,000 titles to a variety of contemporary compositions that have been recorded by Aerosmith, David Essex, Duffy, Eagles, Eminem, Eric Clapton, Inner City, James Morrison, Johnny Hates Jazz, Mike Oldfield, Rascal Flatts, Take That and ZZ Top.

The songs on its roster include "Walk This Way" (recorded by Aerosmith), "You Get What You Give" (New Radicals), "Gimme All Your Lovin'" (ZZ Top), "Baker Street" (Gerry Rafferty), "Sing For The Moment" (Eminem) and dozens of country music songs that went on to become hits.

The writer roster includes Nashville songwriters Brett James and Bobby Pinson and writer producers Steve Robson, Bernard Butler and Andrew Frampton. Frampton co-wrote the hit "The Club is Alive" performed by pop act JLS, which is currently No. 1 in the Official Charts Co's U.K. singles chart.

Masuch added: "It is tremendously important to us to increase our foothold in the U.K. - the hottest and most competitive music market in the world. Stage Three Music is an iconic music publishing business and one we are very pleased to be buying, not only because of its elite roster of writers but also due to its pro-active approach towards licensing, which perfectly supports our thinking and growth strategy."

Steve Lewis, CEO Stage Three Music, commented: "It's been a privilege to work with such a talented group of colleagues and writers. I'm grateful to our investors for their support and very proud of our achievements and the catalog we've assembled over the past seven years. BMG have been very professional purchasers. I'm confident the company is in good hands and I look forward to seeing continued growth under their ownership."

Ingenious Corporate Finance advised the shareholders of Stage Three on the sale.

BMG is a joint venture between the international media company Bertelsmann and an affiliate of asset management firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

Apax Partners is a private equity investment group. It operates across the United States, Europe and Asia and has more than 35 years of investing experience. Funds under the advice and management of Apax Partners globally total over $35 billion.

Ingenious Ventures is the private equity division of Ingenious Media Group and manager of the Ingenious Ventures Limited Partnership, which holds Ingenious' interest in Stage Three Music.