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THE EMI PUBLISHING DERBY IS ON (REPORT)

Sony Corp. has held preliminary talks to acquire a majority stake in EMI Music Publishing from fellow investor Mubadala, which seeks to cash out, unnamed sources tell Bloomberg. Mubadala is seeking a valuation of at least $4b for EMP, according to said sources. A sale would be the largest music-industry transaction since the last time EMI changed hands.

If Sony makes the acquisition, it will cement Sony/ATV’s position as the world’s biggest publishing company. But if the parties fail to reach an agreement, Sony risks losing the catalog to one of its largest competitors. WMG owner Len Blavatnik has expressed interest in EMI, the sources said.

Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala has reportedly begun reaching out to potential suitors for the pubco, which was acquired in 2012 by a consortium comprising Sony, the Michael Jackson Estate, Mubadala, Jynwel Capital, the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners LP and David Geffen. The price tag was $2.2b, or just under eight times EMP’s net publisher share (NPS), which was then in the $300m range. The Sony/Jackson Estate’s piece of EMP is about 40%, with Sony owning three-quarters of that total. Sony/ATV had an approximate valuation of $1.5b in 2015, and its stake in EMI Music Publishing was valued at $860m at the time of the acquisition.

That deal is up in late June, but a new agreement could conceivably go down before it expires.

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