Record Labels

Taylor Swift Catalog Will Be a 'Successful Investment,' Says Carlyle Group CEO

Taylor Swift
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic 

Taylor Swift attends the 2019 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 24, 2019 in Los Angeles.

The private equity firm helped finance the $300 million purchase of Big Machine for Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings.

Carlyle Group co-CEO Kewsong Lee is confident in the private equity firm’s recent investment in Taylor Swift’s back catalog via Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings.

“I’ve got every confidence in the world that it’s going to turn out to be a successful investment,” Lee told CNBC host Wilfred Frost on Wednesday's (Dec. 11) episode of Squawk on the Street.

Carlyle Group has been an investor in Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and helped finance the $300 million deal Ithaca made to acquire Big Machine Label Group -- along with Swift’s entire back catalog -- from its founder, president and CEO Scott Borchetta in June.

The sale immediately ignited an ongoing public dispute between Braun, Borchetta and Swift, who accused Braun of “incessant, manipulative bullying” against her for years and said she hadn’t learned about the deal until it was announced. Braun went on to dispute Swift’s account, saying she had been notified about the deal ahead of time.

Swift subsequently announced a plan to circumvent the purchase of her master recordings by re-recording her back catalog, though she later accused Braun and Borchetta of trying to prevent it, saying in a tweet that they had threatened to disallow use of her music in the Netflix documentary Miss Americana and at the American Music Awards. In that same tweet, Swift sent out a plea specifically to Carlyle Group asking for help in the matter. Big Machine went on to deny many of Swift’s claims, stating the dispute was over an unresolved payment issue between the label and Swift, who ultimately performed a medley of her old hits at the AMAs last month.

During the CNBC interview, Lee largely skirted Frost’s direct questions on the Swift dispute, noting he isn't “involved in the day-to-day of all of our portfolio companies.” When Frost quoted a tweet by Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- in which the Democratic presidential candidate said Swift “is one of many whose work has been threatened by a private equity firm" -- Lee also declined to directly address it.

“I do think private equity is a misunderstood industry,” he said. “We have an enormous value-added function in the economy because of the returns that we are providing to first responders, teachers, folks in unions.... We help businesses become better. We build better businesses. And everything that we do is to invest for impact. So, it is not only about looking for financial returns.”

In August, Swift's seventh studio album Lover was released by Universal Music Group, which whom she signed a multi-year agreement in 2018.