Could more than $1bn in music publishing assets be sold this year?

2017 is shaping up to be a historic year for the acquisition of music publishing assets – and the price paid for them.

The two targets on the radar of the global industry right now are Canadian rights group ole and independent publisher Carlin Music.

Carlin is believed to be on the block and attracting interest in the region of $250m.

According to the FT, Carlin’s catalogue of more than 100,000 songs has been put on the shopping list of companies including Sony/ATV, Atlas Music and Concord Music.

However, one of its more obvious potential buyers, BMG, has ruled itself out, according to sources.

Standout copyrights in the Carlin repertoire include ‘What A Wonderful World’, Elvis Presley’s ‘That’s Alright Mama’ and the soundtracks of musicals such as Fiddler On The Roof and Cabaret.

Meanwhile, Billboard reports that ole could end up being bought for somewhere around $800m.

The Toronto-based music publisher is looking for recapitalization due to the fact that that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund – its main investor for acquisitions to date – is looking to cash out.

Suitors are being asked to place minimum bids of at least $650m to enter the process, as ole seeks an overall valuation of $800m. The move could result in an out-and-out sale.

Ole recently raised $500m via a credit facility, having spent $520m on acquisitions since being founded in 2004.

This is believed to be a fruitful time for music publishing rights-holders keen to cash out – with the multiples paid for their companies (and private equity interest) at a recent high.

Could these market conditions tempt other major names in music publishing to put themselves on the block?

After an auction process in which it failed to score the acquisition price it was looking for from the likes of BMG, Netherlands-born Imagem declared itself not for sale in December 2014.

The business would be expected to fetch a nine-figure sum if it did ever begin entertaining offers again, say MBW’s sources – but, so far, there’s no word it will.

All in all, then, a big year for music rights buyouts. Watch this space.Music Business Worldwide

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