Warner Music Group close to buying minority stake in Rotana Music (report)

Syrian singer, George Wassouf, signed to Rotana.

Back in February 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Music Group was eyeing a stake in Saudi Arabia’s Rotana Group-owned Rotana Music – claimed to be the largest record label in the Middle East.

Citing “people familiar with the deal”, the WSJ’s article from two years ago stated that the major was “in talks to acquire a large minority stake in the company” and that the stake was “worth at least tens of millions of dollars”.

On Tuesday (January 26), citing people familiar with the matter, the WSJ reported that WMG is indeed close to sealing a deal for a minority stake in Rotana that would value the Saudi company “at close to $200 million”.

Should a deal come to pass, Warner therefore appears likely to splash an eight-figure sum on the acquisition.

The Rotana Group is a media empire established by the Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal in 1987.

In addition to Rotana Records, the Group owns a film production company (Rotana Studios), a magazine (Rotana Magazine), a television channel (Rotana TV), seven music radio channels (Rotana Radio) and a hotel management company (Rotana Hotels).

A bit of extra context that’s worth outlining: Warner Music Group is majority owned by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, which is also the majority owner of France-born streaming company Deezer.

In August 2018, Deezer raised $185m from investors including existing ones such as Access Industries and Orange, but also the Rotana Group and The Kingdom Holding Company, a Saudi conglomerate holding company based in Riyadh.

Deezer then launched in the Middle East and North Africa in October 2018 with an exclusive Rotana content deal.

The WSJ adds that negotiations between WMG and Rotana “are in late stages and could result in board approval as early as this week”, however, “the deal could still fall apart,” added the WSJ.

Rotana and WMG “plan to pool their respective artists for online distribution”, according to the WSJ’s sources.Music Business Worldwide