UNIVERSAL SELLS 30% STAKE IN REALLY USEFUL BACK TO LLOYD WEBBER
LONDON, 18 APRIL 1999 — Universal and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Holdings have reached agreement for Really Useful to buy back Universal’s 30 percent stake in his company for $75 million.
Under the new agreement, Really Useful will continue its longstanding and successful relationship with Universal via extensions to their existing music, video and television distribution deals.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said last night: “It’s a superb deal from both companies’ points of view. It will make the Really Useful Group unique in the theatre business as both copyright holder and producer of its shows and music and the company will go forward as a truly independent home for writers, musicians and all creative artists. It’s the first time in my life I have owned 100 per cent of my own work and I am grateful to Edgar Bronfman and to Universal for helping me to achieve that goal. I am also delighted that we will continue to be in business together.”
Zach Horowitz, Universal Music Group’s president and chief operating officer, said: “We are delighted that we were able to work out a mutually beneficial arrangement with Lord Lloyd-Webber and we look forward to continuing to be in business with him and to be associated with his classic works.”
Universal Music Group will continue to market and distribute Really Useful’s existing catalogue of records and will continue to represent its existing music publishing catalogue via long-term, worldwide agreements. These catalogues include the masters and music publishing copyrights of original cast recordings such as Phantom of the Opera, CATS, Starlight Express and Sunset Boulevard. Universal Music Group will be releasing a definitive box set of Lloyd Webber’s recordings in the near future.
In addition, Universal will market and distribute musical-based video and TV programming produced by Really Useful, via a long term output deal for forthcoming productions. The first production under this new agreement will be Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which will be released towards the end of the year and will follow the success of CATS which has sold nearly 3 million videos around the world to date.
Stewart Till, president of Universal’s international film distribution division, said: “CATS was the specialty video and TV event of 1999. To be able to work with Really Useful on future productions is fantastic.”
Bill Taylor, chief executive officer of the Really Useful Group, said: “This is a very exciting deal for the Really Useful Group. We’re in a marvelous position to move forward with a whole range of new projects around the world.
Universal, which is a subsidiary of The Seagram Company Ltd., acquired the 30 per cent stake in Really Useful as part of its acquisition of PolyGram, the music and film company.
The full copyrights of Lloyd Webber’s musicals including CATS, The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love, Starlight Express, Song and Dance and Whistle Down the Wind, will now join the composer’s interests in Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita under Really Useful Group management.
Heads of agreement were signed by Universal and Really Useful this weekend. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of June.
The Really Useful Group is financing the deal with loan arrangements through a major bank. The company made profits of £12.5 million for 1998.