Believe: We’re not selling to Sony (but we are raising money)

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Music distribution and services company Believe has refuted a report from Friday (July 14), which said the Paris-based firm was set to sell to Sony.

Respected Japanese business paper Nikkei reported that Sony Music was on course to acquire a majority stake in Believe before the end of the year for somewhere north of $350m.

But Believe CEO Denis Ladegaillerie has told MBW today that Believe is instead in the process of raising funds for its own acquisitions.

“That information is not true,”  Ladegaillerie said of Nikkei’s report – adding that Believe had recently been “out in the market” to attract funding for two acquisition targets.

MBW understands that one of these targets may be Netherlands-based label Spinnin’ Records, which – as we’ve previously reported – is on the block for upwards of $100m.

At one stage, Sony Music looked like a strong contender to acquire Spinnin’, but is since believed to have walked away from negotiations.

“That information is not true.”

Denis Ladegaillerie on Nikkei’s story

So what of Sony’s own reported interest in buying Believe?

MBW ran a rumor story last month suggesting that the major label was considering a nine-figure acquisition of Ladegaillerie’s company.

Other significant players in the music industry told us they’d been informed Believe was for sale at the right price – but that their own valuations of the business didn’t match those they’d been presented with.

Although firm in his view that Nikkei’s Sony acquisition story is untrue, Ladegaillerie (pictured) admitted that additional discussions over Believe’s future had occurred as part of the company’s fundraising activities.

He told MBW: “Believe has not excluded discussions with potential strategic partners that understand changes in the artist and label market and share [our] values of service, fairness and transparency.”

Believe’s management team, including Ladegaillerie, is understood to currently own approximately a third of the company, with investor TCV owning a further 33%.

The final portion of Believe is owned by other investment funds.

It’s a shareholding structure which would naturally change should additional investors come on board.

“Believe has not excluded discussions with potential strategic partners that understand changes in the artist and label market and share [our] values of service, fairness and transparency.”

Denis Ladegaillerie, Believe

Believe is also understood to be considering an IPO – potentially on the Paris stock exchange – as a solution to its money-raising objectives.

Paris-born Believe Digital was founded in 2004, running both a global online distribution/services arm and an in-house record label, Believe Recordings.

The company significantly increased its distribution market share with the acquisition of TuneCore in April 2015.

After that purchase, Ladegaillerie told MBW that the combination of of Believe and Tunecore would generate an annual turnover in excess of US $250m (€232m).

In October last year, Believe acquired French independent distributor and label Naive for €10m ($12m).

Spotify investor TCV led a $60m investment into Believe in June 2015.Music Business Worldwide

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  • Johnny Smith

    When they refute a report, probably means it’s true. It’ll be sold to Sony within the next 6-12 months.