Sony buys EMI Music Publishing in $1.9bn deal

Tokyo (AFP) –


Japanese entertainment giant Sony on Tuesday announced a deal to acquire the music publishing firm and record label EMI for a price of around $1.9 billion.

Sony signed a deal with Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala to buy its 60 percent holding in EMI, giving the Japanese firm an indirect stake of approximately 90 percent, Sony said in a statement.

"We are thrilled to bring EMI Music Publishing into the Sony family and maintain our number-one position in the music publishing industry," Sony boss Kenichiro Yoshida said in a statement.

He said the music business had "enjoyed a resurgence in the past couple of years" driven by subscription-based streaming services.

EMI is the second-largest music publishing company by revenue and either owns or holds the rights to 2.1 million pieces of music.

It either owns or administers some two million songs, including classics by the likes of Queen, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams and Drake.

As for Sony, it already owns 2.3 million copyrights, including the Beatles catalogue.

The deal values EMI at $4.75 billion, the Sony statement said, adding that "the closing of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals."

Sony will later Tuesday unveil its latest strategic plan under new CEO Yoshida, expecting to focus more on content than hardware.

The electronics and entertainment behemoth last month reported record annual profits worth $4.5 billion, a roaring recovery supported by better sales across the board and helped by box office blockbusters like its Jumanji reboot.

Those figures were seen as a fitting send-off for Kazuo Hirai, who recently stepped down as the firm's chief executive after spending the past six years pulling the firm out of deep financial troubles.

Hirai led an aggressive restructuring drive at Sony, terminating thousands of jobs while selling business units and assets.

Investors appeared dubious about the acquisition however, with Sony stock down around 0.6 percent in the first few minutes of trade, underperforming the wider Japanese market which was flat.