BMG has gained a partner in its bid to purchase Parlophone and other EMI labels that Universal is selling off as part of its purchase of EMI last year: Sony, the label from which it abandoned a joint venture just four years ago. The news, first reported by the Financial Times on Sunday, has been confirmed by two sources to Billboard.biz
This development thickens the plot around the sale of Parlophone, which is said to have a dozen potential bidders. The long-running British label includes Coldplay, Gorillaz, Blur, Kylie Minogue and other artists, although Universal kept the label's most famous artists, the Beatles. Parlophone is easily the most coveted of the assets Universal is offloading, which include Sanctuary, Coop and others. Mute Records' back catalog was sold to BMG late last month.
Sony and BMG are uniting to strengthen their chances of being the winning bidder and will then split the assets, the report said. They have no plans to enter into another joint venture.
Other interested bidders are said to include Warner Music - which recently hired former Sony exec Rob Wiesenthal as COO -- Ronald Perelman's MacAndrews & Forbes; and Simon Fuller and Chris Blackwell, with backing from RIT Capital Partners.
Neither label had responded to Billboard.biz's requests for comment at press time. A rep for BMG told Financial Times: "We have already demonstrated with our bids for publishing copyrights from Sony and the Mute Records catalogue from Universal that BMG is an active player in the reshaping of the music industry. To that end we will do what is necessary to make any bids as competitive as possible."
Bids for Parlophone and the other labels are expected to be in by mid-month.