Universal, Sanctuary Deal Cleared By Regulators

LONDON (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading has cleared Universal Music Group’s acquisition of the financially troubled Sanctuary Group, with Centenary Music Holdings, UMG’s bid vehicle, offering $91.2 million for the company. Universal would also have to assume Sanctuary’s debt, making the total offer well over $200 million.

The bid, entered on June 15, was immediately recommended by the heads of the financially-stricken music group. By July 13, Centenary had received 30.88% of Sanctuary’s total shares, at $0.41 per share, and is expected to complete the deal by tomorrow, July 26.

The U.K. trading regulatory body’s approval of the deal comes after clearances by anti-trust authorities in Germany, Spain, Australia and the United States, assuring that there will be no regulatory obstacles to the transaction.

According to Billboard.biz, Hong Kong-based Silk Route Investments, a consortium led by investment bank Crosby Capital Partners that was reported to be planning a competing bid, has sold its $2.1% stake in Sanctuary, effectively removing itself from the deal.

A final pre-sale deal by Sanctuary saw the music group selling its 49% share in popular indie rock label Rough Trade Records to the Beggars Group for a reported $1.6 million.

The sale also sees Sanctuary-owned artist agency Helter Skelter possibly falling under the Universal business model. Rumors of deals to unload the agency prior to the July 26 deadline seem to be running out of steam, and could be an indication that Universal planning its own all-encompassing music business strategy in the near future. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers

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