Vivendi’s Universal Music to Sell Depeche Mode Label Mute to BMG

Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest record company, agreed to sell its Mute label, home to Depeche Mode, to BMG Rights Management in the first of several divestitures after the takeover of EMI Group.

Universal, based in New York, sold the label for almost $10 million, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The company expects to reach agreements for additional label sales after Jan. 1, said one of the people, who requested anonymity because the deliberations are private.

To meet antitrust requirements, Universal Music plans to sell 500 million euros ($659 million) of assets that include Parlophone, home to Coldplay, the Pet Shop Boys and Tina Turner, along with Sanctuary, the label of The Kinks and Motorhead, a person told Bloomberg in November.

“We are confident that with our sales strategy and the number of parties that have expressed interest in the remaining assets, we will be able to create exactly the level of value that we would expect from the quality of these divestments,” Universal said in a statement announcing yesterday’s sale.

The acquisition was the second yesterday for BMG Rights, a music publisher controlled by New York-based private equity firm KKR & Co. BMG Rights is buying the assets that Sony/ATV Music Publishing, jointly owned by Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, and Universal Music are divesting after their 2011 purchase of EMI from Citigroup Inc.

The Sony/ATV assets acquired yesterday represent publishing rights to about 30,000 songs, a roster that includes works by Kurt Cobain and Iggy Pop, for about $90 million.

Vivendi, which also controls Activision Blizzard Inc., climbed 0.9 percent to 17.01 euros in Paris trading yesterday. The stock has gained 3.9 percent this year.

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