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BMG acquires Sanctuary catalogue

By | Published on Friday 15 February 2013


With the final bits and pieces related to the asset sale kicked off by Universal’s acquisition of EMI Music last year now coming together, BMG has acquired the Sanctuary catalogue. As much previously reported, in order to get regulator approval for its acquisition of the EMI record label business in Europe, Universal had to agree to sell off many of the former British major’s European assets, and also a small number of its own Europe-based units and catalogues.

The Sanctuary catalogue, acquired by Universal when it bought the Sanctuary Music Group in 2007, was one of the latter assets put up for sale. It’s the second recordings catalogue to be sold to BMG as a result of the EMI acquisition, the German music rights business also snapping up the original Mute archive just before Christmas. BMG also successfully bid for the UK-based publishing catalogues Sony/ATV was forced to sell as part of the regulator deal for its acquisition of EMI Music Publishing.

With Warner acquiring the Parlophone Label Group – the biggest part of the former EMI on the block, and which includes active frontline labels as well as catalogue – that means that most of the former EMI assets Universal and Sony were forced to sell as part of their regulator arrangements have gone to the two mega-majors’ main rivals in the original bidding for the EMI businesses. Indeed, for quite some time BMG and Warner were the favourites to win the EMI publishing and recording businesses respectively (deals that would have likely caused much less of a hoo haa at the regulatory stage).

Confirming his company’s acquisition of Sanctuary, which includes recordings from Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, The Kinks, Donovan, Bert Jansch and Status Quo, and from classic former labels like Trojan, Sugarhill and Pye, BMG boss Hartwig Masuch told CMU: “We are delighted to have won the opportunity to work with the exceptional line-up of artists in the Sanctuary catalogue. We have made no secret of our ambition to create a new force in the music industry focused on delivering service and revenue to artists. We believe this deal will be good news for those artists, good news for our partners particularly in the independent sector and good news for the music industry as a whole”.

Assuming all these deals to date get the all clear from Euro-regulators, there are now two assets still to be sold as part of the EMI sale shenanigans: EMI’s stake in the Now! franchise and the Co-operative indie distribution and marketing business. As previously reported, Sony is thought to be bidding for the former, while various independent labels and distributors are linked to bidding for the latter.

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