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Masuch confirms interest in divested assets

WILL BMG REPLACE EMI IN THE BIG FOUR? BMG ruler Hartwig Masuch told the Financial Times yesterday that his company is “very interested” in adding to its collection of music copyrights by buying EMI’s catalogs of master recordings. He also confirmed reports that BMG has been engaged in non-exclusive negotiations with UMG about picking up some assets. Joint-venture partners KKR and Bertelsmann are “very supportive” but would still need to approve a formal bid, he added. In sharp contrast to the naysayers, Masuch believes Universal will suffer little or no loss on the divestments demanded by the EC as a condition of approving the EMI acquisition. “I would assume that they can get what they paid for it,” he speculated. Masuch said BMG was Universal could recoup about 300m ($379m) by selling global rights to labels including Parlophone with estimated annual revenues of 250m ($315m) to 300m. While Masuch wouldn’t confirm industry estimates that BMG’s revenues are now about 250m or comment on what it would offer, he said the EMI deal would be its largest acquisition. He also argued that a BMG acquisition of EMI assets would create a new competitive force to counter regulators’ concerns about the disappearance of one of the contraction of the Big Four. BMG’s approach to rights management, eliminating traditional distinctions between recorded music and music publishing, also offered an “overdue” change in music business models, he argued. (8/31a)

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