Concord Bicycle Music’s buyout of Imagem is one of the biggest music business acquisitions in history, MBW can reveal – taking the US-born buyer into a whole new league of industry power.
Sources close to the music copyright M+A market tell us that Imagem was likely sold for a multiple of 10-12 of its Net Publisher Share (NPS, also known as gross profit).
That would equate to a purchase price of approximately €450m – or over US$500m at current exchange rates. Anonymous sources close to the deal have further corroborated this half-billion dollar ballpark figure.
(UPDATE: Billboard sources suggest the final pricetag was close to $600m – suggesting that Imagem achieved a $550m+ sale via a 12X multiple on NPS.)
The last music industry acquisition of a comparable size would have been Sony Corp’s $750m acquisition of the 50% in Sony/ATV it didn’t already own, which completed in August last year.
Before that, you’d have to go back to Warner Music Group’s buyout of Parlophone Label Group for £487m (around $760m) in summer 2013 – itself a result of Universal Music Group’s $1.9bn acquisition of EMI Music the previous year.
In terms of straight company-to-company music publishing buyouts, Concord’s Imagem deal is the biggest since a Sony/ATV-led consortium paid $2.2bn to acquire EMI Music Publishing, which also closed in 2012.
Make no mistake: Concord is now very much on the map as a major player in the world of music copyrights.
Its Imagem deal brings it an additional 250,000-plus copyrights, meaning that Concord’s publishing division will control in excess of 380,000 works (now including songs by Phil Collins, Mark Ronson and Daft Punk, pictured).
Add to that the raft of recorded music copyrights that Concord has snapped up in recent years. After merging with The Bicycle Music Company and raising $100m in 2015, Concord acquired the likes of Fearless Records and Wind-Up Records while signing a worldwide JV with US indie Razor & Tie.
In addition, it’s bought the likes of Americana/folk/blues specialist HighTone Records and the recorded music assets of Bandit Records – while securing major artist licensing deals with R.E.M and others.
Another interesting aspect of today’s Imagem deal: the Dutch pubco’s CEO, André de Raaff, scrapped an initial attempt to flog his business in late 2014, refusing to sell for less than he thought it worth. That now looks like a very wise decision.
Buoyed by the recent explosion in music publishing valuations (wait and see on Carlin Music and Ole) – plus a buyer willing to acquire all aspects of Imagem’s business (across pop, classical and theatrical) – de Raaff’s choice to play the waiting game has paid off.
The post-deal chatter, though, belongs to Concord.
It must now be classified as a multi-rights ‘mini-major’ alongside the likes of BMG and Kobalt – snapping at the heels of music’s biggest corporations. What’s more, it’s proven its willingness and ability to outspend the best of them.
But here’s the other thing: Concord is itself owned by a group including Barings Alternative Investments, Sound Investors, and seventy institutional and individual partners.
The biggest headline you’ll read on MBW in the coming years may well not be who Concord is buying – but who’s buying it.Music Business Worldwide