LOS ANGELES – Sony Corp. triggered a contract clause that would allow the Japanese electronics maker to to sell its half of the Sony/ATV Music Publishing venture it co-owns with Michael Jackson’s estate, according to people familiar with the situation.
The move means Sony can either sell its half of the music-publishing business or buy the other half, said the people, who asked not to be named because the agreement is private. Documents leaked by hackers who broke into Sony Entertainment’s computers last year revealed that executives at the company had discussed such a sale.
A sale would bring Sony cash and reap a payday for a business it merged with Jackson’s in 1995 to establish Sony/ATV. Jackson, who had earlier purchased rights to The Beatles song library, died in 2009. In 2012, Sony, the executors of Jackson’s estate and other investors purchased the larger EMI song catalog, to form the world’s biggest music-publishing business.
Music publishers collect songwriting royalties from album sales, use on TV and other performances. Sony/ATV also has rights to songs from several Motown artists, and administers the catalog for EMI.
Sony/ATV has a value of around $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported on Wednesday that Sony had triggered the clause. It wasn’t clear whether Sony would include its share of EMI in a sale, the newspaper said.
Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton told Bloomberg News in January that the company had no plans to sell the music publishing business. Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier said the same in a memo to staff.
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