Cyprus Mail

Music rights giant BMI in renewed talks to sell itself -sources

File Photo: 77th Golden Globe Awards Arrivals Beverly Hills, California, U.s., January 5, 2020 Taylor Swift
FILE PHOTO: 77th Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals - Beverly Hills, California, U.S., January 5, 2020 - Taylor Swift. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Broadcast Music Inc (BMI), the music rights company representing top songwriters such as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift and Rihanna, is once again exploring options including a sale after it moved away from its non-profit model, people familiar with the matter said.

BMI has turned to Goldman Sachs Group GS.N, the investment bank that also advised it on deal discussions last year, for guidance as it fields interest from potential acquirers, including private equity firms, the sources said.

The company also explored a sale last year when it was run as a non-profit and handed the vast majority of its profits to music artists and their publishers. The fact that BMI did not keep more money for itself made it difficult for interested parties to justify the price tag of more than $2 billion that the company was seeking, the sources said.

Now, BMI is hoping that its switch to retaining more of the licensing proceeds will make it a more attractive acquisition target, the sources added, cautioning that the company may still decide not to sell itself.

BMI generates about $145 million in 12-month earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to the sources.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Spokespeople for BMI, which is controlled by several TV networks and radio broadcasters, and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Created in 1939, BMI represents the public performance rights in more than 20 million musical works created and owned by more than 1.3 million songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The songs are licensed to digital streaming services, radio and television stations and other music users.

Under an 82-year-old consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department, BMI is required to license to anyone upon request, with pricing disputes settled by a judge. The Justice Department undertook a review of its consent decree with BMI, as well as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), another music rights company owned by Blackstone Inc BX.N, four year ago, but decided to leave the arrangements in place.

BMI and ASCAP jointly account for more than 90% of the music licensing market.

While the predictable royalties generated by these companies make them attractive to private equity firms, buyout negotiations for them have been fraught. Michigan’s retirement system explored a sale of its majority stake in Concord Music Royalties last year, but could not fetch the $6 billion valuation it was seeking.

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