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Sony buys controlling stake in EMI record label

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Sony is set to announce its latest strategic plan for growth later on Tuesday

Sony says it has agreed to buy a controlling stake in EMI Music Publishing for $2.3bn (£1.71bn) as it looks to boost its music portfolio.

The deal would mean Sony would indirectly own about 90% of the record label and its some two million songs by artists from Queen and Carole King to Alicia Keys and Pharrell Williams.

Sony said it was thrilled with the deal, which is subject to approval.

The announcement comes as Sony prepares to unveil its mid-term plan on Tuesday.

EMI, which has its headquarters in London, is currently owned by a consortium led by Sony. It is one of the world’s biggest music publishing firms. Sony already owns 2.3 million music copyrights, including the Beatles catalogue.

The Japanese tech giant’s deal, announced on Tuesday with the Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala, will mean EMI will become a consolidated subsidiary of Sony.

Mubadala’s private equity arm has controlled and managed EMI Music Publishing on behalf of Mubadala and other third-party investors since 2012, Sony said on Tuesday. Before that, EMI was owned by Citigroup.

“We are thrilled to bring EMI Music Publishing into the Sony family and maintain our number one position in the music publishing industry,” Sony’s president and chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida said on Tuesday.

Mr Yoshida said the music business had enjoyed a resurgence over the past couple of years, driven largely by the rise of paid subscription-based streaming services.

“In the entertainment space, we are focusing on building a strong IP portfolio, and I believe this acquisition will be a particularly significant milestone for our long-term growth,” he said.

Changes ahead

Later on Tuesday Sony is expected to unveil a three-year plan to move away from making any more gadgets and towards a bigger focus on gaming subscriptions and entertainment.

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Sony’s successful PlayStation 4 video game console has sold more than 60 million units to date

Earlier this month the firm bought a stake in Peanuts, the company behind Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

The deal to buy up a controlling stake in EMI is very much part of Sony’s plans to realign its business, analysts said.

In April, it reported a net income of 380bn yen for last year, a seven-fold increase on 2016.

Almost all of its divisions saw an improved performance, but the PlayStation unit was a particular standout – it saw sales jump almost 300%.

Sony’s former chief executive Kazuo Hirai handed the reins over to then-finance chief Kenichiro Yoshida earlier this year.

Mr Yoshida and Mr Hirai were instrumental in turning Sony around to focus on smartphone image sensors.

Under their efforts, the Japanese electronics giant also sold off its struggling PC business and launched the successful PlayStation 4 video game console.

Sony buys controlling stake in EMI record label

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