Warner Music Group is the winning bidder for Parlophone, the record label behind Coldplay and Kylie Minogue, which Universal Music Group Inc. had put up for auction to satisfy European regulators.
The £478 million ($748.4 million) deal undercuts Warner’s rivals, such as Sony Corp., which had hoped to buy Parlophone as part of a package of assets that Universal needed to divest in order to win regulatory approval of its acquisition of the recorded music division of EMI.
The label — which features other artists such as Beastie Boys and Gorillaz — was put up for sale in July 2012. The deal allows Universal to rake back almost half of the $1.9 billion it spent on EMI.
Warner’s winning of the auction was reportedly unexpected due to the company’s lobbying against the Universal/EMI transaction for fear that it would limit competition.
Universal and its Paris-based owner, Vivendi SA (EPA: VIV), have already sold Mute Records to BMG, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LLP (NYSE: KKR). Other EMI assets currently on the block include Sanctuary, Jazzland and EMI’s share of the Now compact disc series.
BMG is also believed to have teamed with Sony for the Parlophone auction, as well as music executives Simon Fuller, creator of the “American Idol” television show, and Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. Ronald Perelman, the billionaire buy-out investor, was also rumored as a likely bidder.
In a statement, Universal said it will keep EMI properties that include The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.
Warner will have ownership over an extensive Parlophone artist roster and music catalog that includes David Guetta, Deep Purple, Duran Duran, Iron Maiden, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Tina Turner.
Investment banks Goldman Sachs Group and Bank of America Merrill Lynch ran the sale process for Universal and Vivendi. SJ Berwin, Shearman & Sterling and Smiths Law each provided legal counsel.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP handled legal matters for Warner, with a team led by partners Jeffrey Rosen, Kevin Rinker, Pierre Maugüé, Matthew Kaplan and David Schnabel.