The package of assets -- comprised of 30,000 copyrights from the Virgin and Famous Music U.K. publishing catalogs -- that the Sony-led consortium agreed to sell in order to gain regulatory approval to buy EMI Music Publishing  is about to hit the auction block. According to Reuters , and confirmed by numerous sources, more than 20 suitors have been contacted to see if they want the non-disclosure agreement.
The auction is being handled by Ziffren Brittenham partner John Branca -- who is also co-executor for the Michael Jackson estate -- and Shot Tower Capital principal David Dunn, sources say. They are expected to begin distributing a book with the financials of the assets up for sale within two weeks. First round bids indicating interest are due back in mid-October.
Sources estimates that the copyrights up for sale generate annual revenues of about $25 million to $40 million. Reuters reports that the auction is expected to bring in about $150 million; and potential suitors being queried on whether they want a non-disclosure agreement include Warner Music Group, Round Hill Music, Imagem Music, Platinum Equity Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and BMG Rights Management. Other potential suitors probably include ole, Reservoir Media Management and Saban Capital Group.
When the EU approved the acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, which is being administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, it said it would prefer the catalogs be sold in whole to a new entrant to the music-publishing sector. It also appointed a trustee to monitor the divestment, which must be completed within six months, which would be the end of the year.
Virgin songwriters to be divested include: Duffy, Matt Cardle, Bullet For My Valentine, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark's Andy McClusky, Bryan Ferry, Culture Club, Devo, Fine Young Cannibals, Iggy Pop, Lenny Kravitz, the Prodigy's Liam Howlett, Martha and the Muffins, Guru Josh AKA Paul Walden, Richard Ashcroft, Robbie Williams, Soul II Soul, Stereo MCs, Tears For Fears, Terence Trent D'arby, Texas, the Beloved, the Human League, Ben Harper, the Goo Goo Dolls, Ozzy Osbourne, Kurt Cobain, John Barry, Jim Steinman, the Crystal Method, Tool, Warrant, Mark Ronson, and Take That's Gary Barlow, Jason Orange and Howard Donald. The Famous Music U.K. catalog in the package includes song catalogs of Ian Dury and Chaz Jankel, Placebo, and the Kooks.