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Viacom to Sell Famous Music to Sony/ATV

Eminem performs during the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday, June 4, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill
Eminem performs during the MTV Movie Awards on Saturday, June 4, 2005, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Viacom said on Wednesday it will sell its Famous Music publishing unit to Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

The total value of the deal is $400 million, including $370 million in cash and debt of $30 million, according to a source familiar with the talks.

Famous Music's catalogue of over 125,000 songs and sound cues includes music by Eminem and Shakira as well as movie soundtracks from "The Godfather" and "Mission Impossible."

Viacom's Famous was founded originally as a unit to publish songs from movies.

The deal is the first major move by recently appointed Sony/ATV Chief Executive Martin Bandier, the former head of EMI Music Publishing who left EMI earlier this year.

As part of the deal, Sony/ATV will be entering the production music business through the Famous Extreme division.

Sony/ATV is jointly owned by Sony and pop star Michael Jackson. Its catalogue includes songs by The Beatles, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

"The depth and breadth of the catalogue is what truly makes it great," said Bandier in a statement.

Music publishing has become one of the more coveted segments of the music industry as recorded music has been severely hit by piracy and the transition from physical sales to digital music files.

Publishing is less vulnerable to the vagaries of music retailing as it generates revenue by licensing songs to a variety of sources, including television, advertising, radio and live performance.

Earlier this month, French media giant Vivendi's Universal Music Publishing Group unit became the world's largest music publisher after it bought BMG Music Publishing in a $2.19 billion deal.

Other music companies have also said they intend to expand their publishing catalogues.

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