Warner sells digital distributor Zebralution to independent industry consortium

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Warner Music Central Europe has agreed to sell Berlin-based digital distribution company Zebralution GmbH.

The purchaser is a consortium of independent music industry executives consisting of City Slang boss Christof Ellinghaus, owner of label Embassy of Music Konrad von Loehneysen as well as the original founders of Zebralution, Kurt Thielen and Sascha Lazimbat.

The transaction takes place roughly ten years after the original acquisition of Zebralution by Warner Music Group.

The deal is the latest divestment from WMG in an agreed $200m+ divestment package of Warner-owned recorded music assets being sold to independents – a result of the major’s 2013 purchase of Parlophone Label Group (PLG).

Warner is believed to have agreed to sell on around a third of the value of Warner’s £487m ($765m) buyout of PLG in recordings – an agreement reached with IMPALA and Merlin.

During its ten years within Warner Music Group, Zebralution´s team under the leadership of founder and managing director Kurt Thielen continuously grew revenues from the distribution of its labels´ music catalogues, and built a strong business distributing audio books.

Warner Music Central Europe Chairman & CEO Bernd Dopp commented: “We have had a fantastic ten years working with Zebralution, a company that has given us a special insight into the indie world.

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with Zebralution in the future and wish its management all the luck in the world as they take the company forward on the next stage of its journey.”

“We look forward to start the process of turning this great company that Kurt and Sascha built into a real independent again.”

Christof Ellinghaus (pictured)

Christof Ellinghaus (pictured) said: “We look forward to start the process of turning this great company that Kurt and Sascha built into a real independent again. We’re thrilled for Zebralution to join Merlin right away and become a part of the vital and thriving independent music landscape. We want to be nothing but one of the best distributors in the world for independent labels.”

Konrad von Loehneysen said: “I will continue to work with Warner Music as far as physical distribution of my label Embassy of Music is concerned. In addition to my role as managing director of EoM, I will act as Vice President of Music at Zebralution and contribute both my network and my knowledge of the day-to-day challenges for independent labels to allow Zebralution to offer best-in-class service for its distribution partners.

“In 2017, we live in a streaming world, and our challenge is to be the best partner for this world.”

Kurt Thielen commented: “We thank Bernd Dopp, Andreas Klöpfel and the entire team at Warner Music not only for the fantastic support and the freedom that has allowed us to combine the best of both worlds – major and indie – during the last ten years, but also for the chance that this new phase represents for Zebralution.

“Our entire staff and the new shareholders are highly motivated to take off big time with Zebralution 3.0.“

Zebralution GmbH was founded in 2003 by Kurt Thielen and Sascha Lazimbat, before being acquired by Warner Music Group in 2007.

Zebralution distributes its catalogue of over 500,000 tracks, albums and videos to hundreds of digital service providers worldwide.Music Business Worldwide