BMG Gets Mute

Universal Music Group has begun the disposal of parts of EMI Music by selling Mute Records to German-based Bertelsmann Music Group.

The European Commission ordered Universal to dispose of some EMI assets as a condition of allowing it to buy the last English-based music major label.

BMG, the music publishing giant owned by private-equity firm KKR and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, is also said to be close to buying Sony/ATV’s Rosetta music publishing collection.

It’s reportedly offered $90 million for the rights to songs by such ’80s artists as Bryan FerryTears For Fears and Culture Club.

It appears to have been enough to see off other suitors including Warner Music Group, G2 Investment Group, Primary Wave and Oaktree Capital.

“We are delighted to become the new custodians of the Mute Records catalogue, one of the most prized and influential in electronic and alternative music and a testament to the vision and A&R skills of Daniel Miller,” BMG chief exec Hartwig Masuch said of the Mute deal, which is subject to regulatory approval by the EC regulators.

Mute Records was founded by Miller in 1978 and now has recordings by Depeche ModeYazooNick CaveMoby and Goldfrapp.

Depeche Mode alone is estimated to have sold more than 100 million singles and albums, while dance pioneer Moby has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.

BMG is also working with former partner Sony to purchase Parlophone and other EMI labels, according to Financial Times.

The long-running British label’s roster includes ColdplayGorillazBlurKylie Minogue and others, although Universal kept the label’s most famous artists, The Beatles.

Sony and BMG, who four years ago abandoned their joint venture, are reportedly bidding together with the intention of splitting whatever assets they acquire.

Parlophone is said to have a dozen potential bidders, which are believed to include Warner Music, Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes; and Simon Fuller and Chris Blackwell, with backing from RIT Capital Partners.