Sony Agrees to Buy Michael Jackson’s Music Estate for $750 Million


By Frederick H. Lowe

Sony Corporation of America has signed a binding memorandum of understanding with the estate of Michael Jackson to pay $750 million to buy the remaining 50 percent of Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, an international music publishing powerhouse, Sony doesn’t own.

$733 million lump sum payment

The memorandum of understanding, disclosed Monday by the company’s investor relations, also requires Sony Corporation to make an approximately $733 million lump sum payment as well as distributions previously committed to by Sony/ATV to Jackson’s estate. Both sides expect to sign a definitive sales agreement on March 31.

The agreement will benefit Jackson’s three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket and Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, but his father, Joe, who was temporarily blinded after suffering a stroke last July in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is not mentioned.

Joe, a steelworker, wannabe musician and prize fighter, recognized his sons’ talents and developed them into a music powerhouse with Michael becoming the superstar of superstar.

The deal eliminates the estate’s debts

The deal zero outs Michael Jackson’s debts believed to be around $400 million, according to Billboard Magazine.

Michael Jackson’s court cases, based on allegations that he sexually abused minor-age boys and on penalties for showing up late for court, overshadowed his ability as a gifted artist and very smart businessman.

Sony ATV established in 1995

Sony ATV, a partnership between Jackson and Sony Corporation of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corp., was established in 1995, 14 years before Jackson, “The King of Pop’s” untimely death on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50.

The company represents  the copyrights to world’s best-known artists

Sony ATV is a music publishing powerhouse, to understate it wildly. Together with EMI Music Publishing, Sony ATV owns or administers more than 3 million copyrights, making it the world’s leading music publisher.

Sony ATV’s catalogue includes many of the best songs ever written, including “New York, New York,” “Moon River,” “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Jail House Rock.”

In addition, Sony ATV represents the copyrights of such legendary artists as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Willie Nelson, Carole King, Sting, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Lady Gaga, P!nk, Alicia Keys and Kanye West.

Further, Sony ATV owns or administers copyrights from such iconic music catalogues, including Motown, Leiber & Stoller, Mijac Music and Famous Music.

Estate officials noted that the transaction will not affect its continuing substantial interests in other music assets, including all of Michael Jackson’s master recordings as well as Mijac Music, the publishing company that owns all of the songs written by Michael Jackson as well as songs by some his favorite songwriters and artists that were acquired by Michael Jackson during his life. In addition, the Estate also will retain its ownership interest in EMI Music Publishing.

The deal shows Michael was a genius

The deal “further validates Michael’s foresight and genius investing in music publishing,” said John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate. “His ATV catalogue, purchased in 1985 for a net acquisition cost of $41.5 million, was the cornerstone of the joint venture and, as evidenced by the value of his transaction, is considered one of the smartest investments in music history.”

Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment Inc., said: “This acquisition will enable Sony to more quickly adapt to changes in the music publishing business, while at the same time continuing to be an unparalleled leader in the industry and treasured home for artists and writers.”

 Michael Jackson’s Estate

The estate of Michael Jackson continues to produce well-received documentaries, including “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off The Wall,” which was directed by Spike Lee. It was the highest rated music documentary of all time and the second highest rated documentary ever filmed.

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