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Music catalog fund Hipgnosis sold to Blackstone

Hipgnosis executive Merck Mercuriadis (L) and co-founder Nile Rodgers attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 2024 induction and awards gala in New York on June 13, 2024 (ANGELA WEISS)
Hipgnosis executive Merck Mercuriadis (L) and co-founder Nile Rodgers attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 2024 induction and awards gala in New York on June 13, 2024 (ANGELA WEISS)

Shareholders of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, which in recent years made waves by helping popularize music rights as an asset class, have voted to accept a $1.6 billion takeover from US private equity firm Blackstone, filings showed Tuesday.

A regulatory filing showed shareholders overwhelmingly voted to approve the deal, which caps a tumultuous year for the British firm, including a bidding war that followed investor concerns over the fund's tumbling share price.

Its outspoken chief, Merck Mercuriadis, last week had announced he would leave as chairman of Hipgnosis Song Management once the Blackstone acquisition of the fund was final.

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Hipgnosis Songs Fund is listed as an investment trust on the London Stock Exchange, where it went public six years ago. Its portfolio includes tens of thousands of tracks.

Mercuriadis had been running the separate management company, which in 2021 Blackstone invested $1 billion to partner with.

Hipgnosis played a large role in hyping the spike in sales of lucrative music portfolios, dropping staggering sums on catalogs including those of Neil Young, Justin Bieber and Shakira.

Mercuriadis, a longtime industry executive who at times managed careers of stars like Elton John and Beyonce, pitched that music was an asset whose revenues would operate outside of regular market swings.

He co-founded Hipgnosis with guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers.

But as a music catalog buying frenzy saw several years of blockbuster sales, some in the industry grumbled that Hipgnosis was overpaying and driving prices up.

Concerns last year over the company's share price as well as asset valuations prompted demands for structural change and a search for an outside buyer.

American independent music company Concord had reached a tentative deal to acquire the fund for $1.4 billion, but Blackstone's higher offer won out in the end.

In announcing his decision to step down last week, Mercuriadis said "this is a timely opportunity for me to undertake a strategic shift of focus, and to spend more time advocating on behalf of songwriters to ensure that they are properly compensated for their work."

mdo/nro