Wonderful World for KKR

Over the years, the denizens of venerable private equity behemoth Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have proved their mastery of all manner of financial arcana. Yet although this command of complicated mezzanine structures or the balance sheet of Dalmia, India’s largest private cement company, is undeniably impressive, it’s not the kind of thing they can generally strike up a conversation about at non-private equity dinner parties.

Thank Henry, then, for those times when the worlds of Wall Street and Main Street collide, and private equity types can get involved with companies that even Joe Public would consider to be quite fun.

So it was with the recent acquisition of Bug Music by BMG Rights Management, the music publishing joint venture between KKR and Bertelsmann of Germany. The deal, which is rumoured to have been worth about $300 million, supposedly gives BMG an advantage in the race to buy EMI, the UK music company fresh from its ill-fated period of ownership by Terra Firma. But more significantly, at least as far as First Round is concerned, it means that KKR now owns the rights to such classic pop songs as ‘What a Wonderful World’, ‘Summer in the City’, ‘Fever’, ‘Under the Boardwalk’ and, erm, ‘The Real Slim Shady’.

First Round finds itself fondly imagining the next dinner party at which said KKR denizen finds him/ herself. As they sit there, listening politely to the marketing guy next to them droning about a new brand of washing powder, Eminem comes on the iPod in the background – so they hold up their hand, turn around to the charming man/ woman on the other side and say: “Hear this? I literally own that song.’ Imagine that. Wouldn’t that just make everything – those years of study, those long nights in the dataroom – wouldn’t that make it all worthwhile, just in that one single moment?