Herbies and Weil seal £126m Boosey & Hawkes deal

Herbert Smith client Imagem Music has won an auction to acquire classical music publisher Boosey & Hawkes from private equity house Hg Capital.

Independent music publisher Imagem, which is owned by Dutch pension fund ABP and music publisher CP Masters BV, acquired the business for £126m under advice from Herbert Smith partner Ben Ward.

This is the second time Herbert Smith has acted for Imagem in as many months. Following a recommendation from partner Alfred Metzelaar at Dutch alliance firm Stibbe, the firm advised the company on the acquisition of the 19 and Zomba labels’ catalogues from Universal Music Group (The Lawyer, 10 March 2008)

On the current deal Hg turned to regular adviser Weil Gotshal & Manges for the sale, with partner Jonathan Wood leading the transaction. Wood, at the time a partner at Lovells, represented the private equity house when it paid £75m for Boosey & Hawkes in 2003.

Wood said of Hg’s exit: “Notwithstanding current market conditions and the environment for getting debt, there was a hotly-contested auction process”.

Other bidders for Boosey & Hawkes were SJ Berwin client Universal Music, Slaughter and May client EMI and Latham & Watkins client Bug Music.

“Boosey & Hawkes is the type of asset that would sit well with their businesses because it would generate synergies,” said Wood.

Boosey & Hawkes’ management team received separate advice from Laytons partner Richard Kennett.

Weil Gotshal has been one of Hg’s main advisers since 2006, when the private equity house dropped Lovells following Wood’s defection along with private equity head Marco Compagnoni to Weil.

At the same time Hg turned to Clifford Chance in Germany to retain the services of former Lovells private equity star Oliver Felsenstein, who had joined the magic circle firm the previous year.