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From Britney to Boyzone: ABP forays into music

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NETHERLANDS - The €217bn Dutch pension fund ABP has bought €140m worth of European publishing rights from Universal Music Group containing 'evergreen' songs such as Lady in Red and I Believe I Can Fly.

In a joint venture with the Dutch-based indie music publisher CP Masters (CPM), the fund has bought the catalogs of Rondor UK, Zomba UK, 19 Music, 19 Songs and the BBC Catalogue, comprising some 90,000 copyright entitlements.

"We expect to have a return of 8% from this investment," a spokesman told IPE today, adding the move is part of ABP's innovation portfolio, a new category set up last year to sniff out investments "which fall between the cracks".

ABP and CPM have created a new investment fund entitled Imagem C.V to hold this acquisition, along with possible future investments in music rights.

Ronald Wuijsters, head of strategy and research at the fund, believes it is the first time a pension fund has invested in music catalogues, which earn income every time a song is played on the radio or sold.

He added in a comment: "The publishing of music requires a specific expertise, therefore we are looking forward to the cooperation with CP Masters, which has specialised in the field."

Earlier investments of the innovation portfolio include last year's investment into timberland investments via the Global Solidarity Forest Fund (GSFF), though the spokesman declined to comment which other investments the fund's innovation committee, lead by Tom Steenkamp, currently considers.

Universal Music Group was required to sell the assets in connection with regulatory approval for its $2bn acquisition of BMG Music Publishing, which it bought last year.

Universal retains the rights to those catalogues in the US and in other territories outside of Europe.

Earlier this month IPE reported Derk Jan Kiewiet, a lecturer at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, had joined the fund as innovation manager. In the new role, Kiewiet will manage innovation projects from ABP's new Innovation Competence Centre.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any otherstory, contact Carolyn Bandel on +44 (0)20 7261 4622 or email carolyn.bandel@ipe.com

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