BMG To Buy UK Rival

Germany’s Bertelsmann Music Group is trying to get a stronger foothold in the UK by agreeing to buy British publishing company Stage Three Music.

While BMG declined to say how much it would pay, it called the move “significant” in the way its purchase of U.S. rival Cherry Lane had been in the spring, according to Financial Times. The Cherry Lane deal was believed to be worth a little under $80 million.

BMG chief executive told the FT that Stage Three Music is an iconic music-publishing business with an “elite roster of writers” in “the hottest and most competitive music market in the world.”

“Once the deal closes, we won’t have any problem competing at eye-level in the UK with the majors,” he said.

Stage Three, which is owned by Apax Partners and Ingenious Ventures and has management that former Island Music president Lionel Conway, has clients that have written songs for acts including Aerosmith, Eagles and Eric Clapton. It has control of some modern classics such as Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

BMG is owned by media group Bertelsmann and private equity firm KKR. In the two years since its formation it has taken advantage of the fall in music-asset prices by making what may turn out to be some very profitable investments.

The debt-laden EMI has recently demonstrated its commitment to music publishing, the past of the company that makes most money, by promoting divisional head Roger Faxon to chief executive of the whole company.