Private equity powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts invested in Bertelsmann’s BMG Rights Management division in 2009 to form a publishing joint venture that has gone on to become one of the most acquisitive players in the market. During the company’s buying binge, it has picked up leading independent publishers like Cherry Lane Music Publishing, Chrysalis and Bug Music. BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch has ruffled feathers with his bravado about not overpaying for publishing acquisitions, claiming publicly at the 2009 Billboard Music & Money Symposium that the company’s price target for acquisitions was eight to nine times net publisher’s share. But there’s no denying the company’s rapid rise. Billboard estimates BMG’s annualized revenue at about $325 million, the fifth-largest among music publishers. A consortium led by Sony Corp. beat out BMG to win last year’s auction for EMI Music Publishing. But once the Sony-EMI deal is completed, BMG will still emerge as the fourth-largest publishing company based on revenue. Meanwhile, Masuch continues to keep an eye out for further acquisition opportunities, with company insiders predicting that BMG will reach $500 million in annualized revenue within two years-not bad for a joint venture that will mark its third anniversary in July.
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