Sony Emails Show Music Publishing Sale Floated

One of the revelations of the recent Sony email hack was apparently a “top secret” suggestion to sell the company’s massive music-publishing arm, Sony/ATV, home to the Beatles’ catalog, plus 3 million other works, including those of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Kanye West and Motown.

Photo: AP Photo, File
With Ed Sullivan during a rehearsal for the British group’s first American appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”

Sony has been underperforming to the tune of a $2.1 billion deficit this year alone, partially because of its lackluster electronic divisions, and investors have pressured Sony to sell assets, according to the New York Times.

Sony execs in Japan and the U.S. considered hiving its music assets as a solution.

“I’d like to hear your thoughts on the music publishing business, which has a rather complex capital and governance structure and is impacted by the market shift to streaming,” Sony’s CFO wrote to company chiefs Oct. 3, according to Bloomberg News.

Steven E. Kober, CFO of the Sony Corporation of November, wrote that he was “very surprised” that the company would be considering selling the catalog, according to an email sent Nov. 21.

Some emails say that selling the music publishing arm would be especially difficult because of the investment structure. Owners include Sony and the Michael Jackson estate, but also many investors the $2.2 billion purchase of EMI’s publishing rights in 2011, the Times noted.