The long — and I do mean loooong– financial soap opera involving Sony Music and Michael Jackson may finally be coming to an end.
Michael’s estate and Sony jointly own Sony/ATV Music, which in turn owns the Beatles catalog. Michael and Sony merged their resources in the mid 1990s. From then until his death in 2009, Michael amassed $320 million in loans using his stake in Sony/ATV as collateral.
Now come reports that Sony has pulled the trigger on an amendment in which either side has the right to buy each other out. Sony either wants to buy Michael’s portion and then sell the whole thing, or just Michael’s stake and call it a day.
Coincidentally, the Michael Jackson estate has just suffered a setback in a lawsuit brought by former Neverland kid Wade Robson. A judge has ruled that Robson can go ahead and sue Jackson’s companies for sexual harassment because Robson was an employee. Robson had previously been denied in his efforts to get money from Jackson’s estate.
Some reports suggested that Jackson’s estate could actually buy Sony/ATV’s half of the company, but that seems unlikely and/or impossible. Sony would love to shore up Sony/ATV as a valuable asset and then leverage it for anywhere from one-to-two billion. The Beatles catalog remains a HUGE gem in the crown of all music publishing. Sony could sell the whole thing and make up losses from its movie and electronics divisions.
The Robson part of it is interesting because the judge is saying Michael’s companies can be sued.
As for the publishing side, the Jackson estate suddenly getting rich from a sale to Sony could affect the ongoing IRS claim of over $700 million in back taxes.