Bertelsmann Finalizes BMG Buyout

Dr. Thomas Hesse

Bertelsmann now has sole ownership of BMG.

The antitrust offices in the U.S., Germany, Austria and Ireland have now given the green-light for Bertelsmann’s takeover of BMG shares previously held by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR).

“Within the next four to five years we want to increase BMG’s revenues up to €500 million ($641 million,” Thomas Hesse, Bertelsmann member of the board for the new business told Billboard.

Hesse says the focus now is on “organic growth” and on the acquisition of attractive catalogs both in publishing-rights and master-rights -- but only at reasonable prices.

BMG will expand regionally, including Latin America and South East Asia, notes Hesse. And there are plans to leverage intellectual property rights into the audio-visual area.

BMG has become one of the fastest growing start-ups in the history of the music-business, accumulating more than one million music rights in less than five years. Hesse also said BMG’s revenues and operating profit are in a similar position as the former BMG Music Publishing was for its key rock and pop business back in 2006, when it was sold to Vivendi.

After two years of speculation that KKR wanted out of its investment in BMG, it appears that it was Bertelsmann's idea to buy out the private equity firm, as the Germany-based media giant wanted full control of the music company.

According to sources, Bertelsmann paid KKR $390 million for its 51% stake in BMG in a deal that values BMG at $1.4 billion.

After pulling out of the traditional recorded music business, Bertelsmann founded BMG in 2008 in association with KKR. BMG administers the rights to more than one million songs, including works by such artists as Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Gossip, Johnny Cash, and Will.i.am. It also represents the master rights of such artists as Brian Ferry, Nena and Anastacia.

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