Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala halts Abraaj investment deal talks

Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala has halted talks to buy Abraaj’s investment business. (AFP)
Updated 23 April 2018
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Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala halts Abraaj investment deal talks

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala has halted talks to buy Abraaj’s investment business, two sources said, in a blow to the private equity firm which is facing an investigation by investors into how it used some of their money.
Dubai-based Abraaj, which denies any wrongdoing, is considering selling some or all of the unit following a row with four investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, over how it used their money in a $1 billion health care fund.
Mubadala, which has more than $200 billion in assets, and Abraaj held initial talks a month ago, but these did not progress, one of the sources said.
Abraaj said it does not comment on market speculation, while Mubadala declined to comment on Monday.
“We remain focused on working collaboratively with our investors and continuing to execute on the re-organization of our firm to pave the way for continued long-term growth and value creation,” Abraaj said in an email to Reuters.
Investment banks have also approached international private equity firms to look at Abraaj’s investment arm, but some are holding off until after an investigation by forensic accounting experts Ankura Consulting, which has been commissioned by the investors, two other sources said.
Other potential buyers include Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), sources said last month.
ADFG, which manages $6.5 billion in assets, declined to comment about its interest in Abraaj’s investment business. The Gates Foundation and the IFC, the World Bank’s private finance arm, have both declined to comment on the row.
SHAKE-UP
The fund dispute, which erupted this year has jolted Abraaj, a top investor in the developing world founded in 2002 by Arif Naqvi, who in late February handed the running of the fund to two co-chief executives.
Abraaj has also shaken up its management, suspended new investments, freed up large investors from millions of dollars in capital commitments and is reviewing its corporate structure.
It was managing $13.6 billion before deciding to return $3 billion to investors and putting a new $6 billion fund on hold.
Naqvi remains CEO of Abraaj Holdings, a significant shareholder of Abraaj Investment Management Ltd, the fund management business. Sources say he has spoken to senior bankers about various options for the firm, although Abraaj has not formally hired an adviser to sell the business.


Sony buys EMI Music Publishing in $1.9 billion deal

Updated 15 min 34 sec ago
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Sony buys EMI Music Publishing in $1.9 billion deal

  • The deal adds a catalogue of more than two million songs — including some of the greatest hits from the first half of the 20th century — to Sony’s already huge repertoire
  • Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” continues to be a top-10 money-spinner even today, more than 75 years after its initial release
TOKYO: Japanese entertainment giant Sony on Tuesday unveiled a $1.9-billion deal to buy industry titan EMI Music Publishing, which has the rights to songs by the likes of Queen and Pharrell Williams.
The deal adds a catalogue of more than two million songs — including some of the greatest hits from the first half of the 20th century — to Sony’s already huge repertoire.
The agreement is Sony’s first major deal under new CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, who noted the music business has enjoyed a “resurgence” in recent years due to streaming services provided by companies such as Spotify and Apple.
With this purchase, Sony “is becoming one of the biggest music publishing companies, both in name and reality,” Yoshida told reporters.
“We are thrilled to bring EMI Music Publishing into the Sony family and maintain our number-one position in the music publishing industry,” Yoshida said in an earlier statement.
“I believe this acquisition will be a particularly significant milestone for our long-term growth,” added Yoshira, who took the Sony helm last month.
Sony said it had signed a deal with Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala to buy its 60-percent holding, giving the Japanese firm an indirect stake of approximately 90 percent.
The agreement values EMI Music Publishing at $4.75 billion, the Sony statement said, adding that “the closing of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.”
Yoshida also Tuesday unveiled Sony’s latest strategic plan, which aims to bolster its content business — pursuing the direction his predecessor Kazuo Hirai had taken to revitalize one of Japan’s best-known firms.
“We are a technology firm, but the technology means not only electronics but also entertainment and content-creation” in today’s world, Yoshida said.
Sony will continue to build up its content services — as shown by Tuesday’s deal — and also invest heavily in cutting-edge technologies including image sensors, he said.
“This is part of Sony’s strategy under Yoshida to beef up its entertainment businesses,” noted Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo.
“In the music business, copyrights are crucial. So, the deal is meaningful, and its price appears practical and reasonable,” the analyst said, adding that success would depend on the quality of the content Sony creates in the future.
The electronics and entertainment behemoth last month reported record annual profits of $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 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, cutting thousands of jobs while selling business units and assets.
EMI is the second-largest music publishing company by revenue and either owns or administers some two million songs, including classics by the likes of Queen, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams.
As for Sony, it already owns 2.3 million copyrights, including the Beatles catalogue, as well as being a massive player in IT, communications, film and gaming.
EMI holds a “comprehensive and diverse collection of copyrights for music and lyrics” from a “wide variety of iconic and popular songwriters,” the statement said.
Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” continues to be a top-10 money-spinner even today, more than 75 years after its initial release, it added.
Current songwriters under its banner include Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Drake, Pink, Fetty Wap and Hozier.
Investors appeared dubious about the acquisition and the new strategic plan however, with Sony stock down around 1.2 percent in the afternoon, underperforming the wider Japanese market, which was fractionally weaker.