Warner Music Group (WMG) has made an investment in Saudi Arabia’s Rotana Group-owned Rotana Music, which is claimed to be the largest record label in the Middle East.
The deal – believed to be an eight-figure acquisition for a minority stake – will expand WMG’s presence in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region.
On Tuesday January 26, citing people familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported that WMG was close to sealing a deal for a minority stake in Rotana Music that would value the Saudi company “at close to $200 million”.
Rotana Music’s portfolio includes many of the most prominent artists across the Arab world, including: Mohamad Abdo, Abdulmajid Abdallah, Rabeh Saqer, Rashed Al Majed, Abdallah Ruwaished, Ahlam, and other stars from the Gulf region; and Amr Diab, Elissa, Tamer Hosny, Najwa Karam, Shereen Abdalwahab, Angham, Wael Kfoury, Saber Al Robae, and others from the Levant, Egypt, and North Africa.
Owned by Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, the company is headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with branches in Jeddah, Dubai, Kuwait City, Beirut, and Cairo.
It was also announced today (February 16) that ADA Worldwide, WMG’s label services division, will distribute Rotana releases globally outside of MENA and via YouTube for the entire world.
Established in 1993, Rotana Music Holding is claimed to be the largest record label and music repertoire holder in the Arab world.
The company has a prominent presence across Arabic media, entertainment, events, and content producer and distributor in the MENA region and the world.
Rotana’s artist management team also works with its artists on music production, publishing and rights management, events and concerts.
WMG launched Warner Music Middle East in 2018, covering 17 markets across the Middle East and North Africa.
With a population nearing half a billion people, the MENA music market is expected to grow exponentially as the region continues to improve internet speeds and smartphone penetration.
Kacy Grine & Co acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Rotana Music in this transaction.
“We’re thrilled to be joining with Rotana, whose significant presence in the market reflects its extraordinary roster of musical icons and outstanding talent.”
Simon Robson, WMG
Simon Robson, WMG’s President, International, Recorded Music, said: “The Middle East and North Africa region is among the most culturally dynamic places in the world today, with burgeoning musical scenes and dramatic consumption growth.
“We’re thrilled to be joining with Rotana, whose significant presence in the market reflects its extraordinary roster of musical icons and outstanding talent.
“We’re especially excited about the opportunity to both expand our profile in the region and to bring these amazing artists to audiences across the globe.”
“This is an exciting time, and we at Rotana are very happy with this partnership, which will facilitate Warner Music’s reach into the MENA music industry and fan communities, just as it will benefit Rotana in our global expansion objective.”
Salem Al Hendi, CEO, Rotana Music Holding
Salem Al Hendi, CEO, Rotana Music Holding, added: “This is an exciting time, and we at Rotana are very happy with this partnership, which will facilitate Warner Music’s reach into the MENA music industry and fan communities, just as it will benefit Rotana in our global expansion objective.
“The creative culture in MENA is so vibrant and diverse, and this partnership will enhance the exchange of music and ideas, while promoting and supporting local artists on the global stage.
“I would like to congratulate His Royal Highness Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal on this win-win partnership, which is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030 to keep pace with changes taking place globally, including in entertainment and the digital music landscape.”
A bit of extra context that’s worth noting: 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.Music Business Worldwide