Private equity group to improve offer for Beyoncé song fund Hipgnosis

Estimated read time 2 min read

A private equity company attempting to take over Hipgnosis has sweetened its offer to value the troubled music rights owner at nearly $1.6bn (£1.26bn) as it attempts to end a protracted sale process.

Blackstone has said it will switch the offer for the Hipgnosis Songs Fund to a “scheme of arrangement deal”, which would require it to meet a higher threshold of shareholder support but could make the takeover quicker if it is achieved.

In an attempt to secure the support of more investors of the company, which owns the rights of artists including Beyoncé, Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Bieber, it has increased its offer a share by $0.01 to $1.31, which would value Hipgnosis at about $1.58bn.

The revised offer comes after Blackstone fought off competition for Hipgnosis from the US-based royalties fund Concord Music, which had offered $1.4bn.

If the deal is completed, it would mark the end of a turbulent six years for Hipgnosis, which was set up in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, the former manager of acts including Elton John, Iron Maiden, Guns N’ Roses and Beyoncé.

Mercuriadis used his music industry connections to spend millions on the rights to 138 catalogues with more than 40,000 songs but the company ran into problems recently because of rising interest rates and changes to the valuation of its songs.

This resulted in a shareholder rebellion last year, with its investors voting in October against continuing the struggling fund in its then form.

Under the scheme of arrangement deal put forward by Blackstone on Monday, the takeover will need approval from 75% of voting shareholders, compared with 55% previously.

However, once this is met the deal becomes binding across all investors and would make it easier for Blackstone to control all of the shares in issue, regardless of whether a shareholder voted for it or not.

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Blackstone is already a majority shareholder in Hipgnosis’s investment adviser, Hipgnosis Songs Management, which is paid to manage the music rights fund.

This deal will be separate to this but Blackstone did have an option to make an offer for the Hipgnosis portfolio if the advisory agreement was terminated.


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