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Distributor Zebralution is Warner’s latest post-Parlophone divestment

By | Published on Tuesday 4 April 2017


Warner Music has sold German digital distribution business Zebralution back to its founders, and a consortium of other indie labels, in the latest deal that makes good on the mini-major’s promise to offload a certain number of assets to the independent sector following its acquisition of the Parlophone business in 2013.

As previously reported, in order to get regulator approval for its acquisition of the EMI record company in 2012, Universal Music had to sell off some key EMI units in Europe, including the Parlophone label. Much of those assets then went to Warner which – in a bid to stop the indies opposing its acquisition in the way they had Universal’s EMI purchase – did a deal with the independent sector via its European trade group IMPALA and digital rights agency Merlin. Under that deal, Warner agreed to sell off some assets to the indies.

It took a few years for the off-loading to really begin – so much so, the whole EMI sell off now seems like a lifetime ago – but a few deals are now in the bag as Warner makes good on its commitment. Returning Zebralution – which Warner acquired ten years ago – back into independent ownership is arguably the most significant of those deals to date.

In addition to Zebralution founders Kurt Thielen and Sascha Lazimbat, City Slang’s Christof Ellinghaus and Embassy Of Music’s Konrad von Loehneysen are also involved in the buy-out of the music distribution business, which also added audio book and audio play distribution services while it was part of the Warner group.

Confirming the deal, Thielen said yesterday: “We thank the entire team at Warner Music not only for the fantastic support and the freedom that has allowed us to combine the best of both worlds – major and indie – during the last ten years, but also for the chance that this new phase represents for Zebralution. Our entire staff and the new shareholders are highly motivated to take off big time with Zebralution 3.0”.

Meanwhile the boss of Warner Music Central Europe, Bernd Dopp, added: “We have had a fantastic ten years working with Zebralution, a company that has given us a special insight into the indie world. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with Zebralution in the future and wish its management all the luck in the world as they take the company forward on the next stage of its journey”.