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🎸 Private equity wants to bop to Beyonce


In today’s email:

  • Big changes in UAE

  • Listen to your uni notes

  • What is a company secretary?

  • Why San Francisco’s suing Oakland

  • Eversheds Sutherland’s big promotions

  • The one thing you remember from tort law

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

Hipgnosis, a UK-based music rights company known for its high-profile back catalogs of stars like Beyoncé and Justin Timberlake, is now the target of a high-stakes bidding war between US entities Blackstone and Concord Music. This deal is part of a broader trend of UK firms attracting US buyers — which is influenced by a depreciating pound and slower economic growth in the UK.


You’d make a great company secretary.

… I think.

Well, actually I’m not sure.

To be honest, I don’t *really* know what a company secretary is.

But I know our friends at Flex Legal just launched a new company secretary apprenticeship — they want to get people like you into this career.

So, if you want to learn about:

  1. a career as a company secretary, or

  2. what a company secretary even is…

…come to their event on 2 May which explains it.

I’ll be joining too 👆️ 

- Idin

🎸 Private equity wants to bop to Beyonce

Beyonce Bae GIF

Credit: Giphy

What's going on here?

Blackstone (a US-private equity firm) and Concord Music (a US-based music company) are in a bidding war to take over Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

Hipgnosis is a British music rights company which owns the back catalogs of artists like Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Mark Ronson.

How does Hipgnosis work?

Hipgnosis approaches famous musicians and offers them a lump sum of money for their future streaming revenue. This is good for the artists because they get paid now — they don’t have to wait for cheques from Spotify. Hipgnosis collects its money over a period of time from streaming services.

A super-brief history:

  • 📆 2018: Hipgnosis was founded by Merck Mercuriadis (former manager of Elton John, Iron Maiden, Beyoncé). The company raised £202m and began acquiring streaming rights for a bunch of artists. It went public on the London Stock Exchange that same year.

  • 📆 2019 - 2020: After going public, Hipgnosis bought the streaming rights for artists like Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and 50 Cent.

  • 📆 2021: Hipgnosis partnered with Blackstone, raising a $1bn investment to acquire even more music rights (it bought Justin Timberlake’s music catalogue too).

Who’s bidding for Hipgnosis?

Last week… the music company Concord offered to pay £0.93 ($1.15) per share to take over the company, valuing it at $1.4bn.

But this week… the private equity fund Blackstone made a counteroffer to pay £1.00 ($1.24) per share, in a bid worth $1.5bn, outbidding Concord Music — and it looks like they’ll win.

Which law firms are involved?

What’s the big picture?

Why mention that?

Well, there’s a similarity between that deal and this one (clue: think where the two bidders for Hipgnosis are from).

Here’s the answer.

There’s a rise in UK companies becoming the target for takeovers by US buyers.

UK companies, big or small, have recently been bought for cheap relative to their own historical prices.

A few reasons why:

  • 📉 UK companies are undervalued. There's a broad perception that publicly listed companies in the UK are undervalued compared to similar companies abroad. This makes UK companies attractive targets for foreign takeovers.

  • 💷 A weak sterling makes UK assets more attractive. The pound has fallen in value against the dollar recently. As the pound weakens, it becomes cheaper for dollar-based investors to purchase UK companies as their dollar now goes further than it did before, making UK companies more vulnerable to foreign takeovers.

  • 🐢 The UK's economic growth has been relatively slow. This is especially true in comparison to the US or some Asian economies. Slower growth can lead to lower earnings forecasts for companies, which in turn affects their stock valuations.

So, while this deal’s giving work to UK law firms, it could indicate a less-than-ideal trend that firms should look out for.


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🐌 I only know “snail in a bottle”


  • 🎉 Eversheds Sutherland has announced its largest-ever partner promotions for 40 lawyers, with a record 60% of them being women. The majority of new partners are based in London, though promotions also took place in Manchester, Leeds, Vilnius, and Shanghai. The firm’s CEO Lee Ranson highlighted their commitment to diversity, aiming for 35% female partners by 2027 and adjusting ethnicity goals for 2030.

  • 📜 Law firms in the UAE are gearing up for increased business activity with the new bankruptcy law set to take effect on 1 May. The legislation introduces a specialised Bankruptcy Court and other changes aimed at improving economic resilience and offering better support for insolvent businesses. Law firms like Allen & Overy and Dentons are making changes (like hiring more restructuring and insolvency experts) to get ready for an influx of bankruptcy work. (Akin Gump did a detailed explanation of the changes — the “Implications and Next Steps” is useful to read).

  • 🌍 Ocado, a UK-listed grocery tech company, is considering moving its stock listing from London to New York. It believes it could achieve higher valuations in the US. Ocado's CEO has expressed frustration with UK investors viewing the company more as an online supermarket rather than a tech firm. The potential move reflects a wider trend among UK companies exploring the idea of listing abroad as opposed to at home.

  • 🛩️ San Francisco is suing the city of Oakland for its plan to rename its airport to “San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport”. San Francisco argues that it would create “consumer confusion” (although, the two places are actually super close together, so even if you got it wrong, seems like you could fix it pretty easily?) 👇️ 



  • 📹️ Free application help: If you're applying to commercial law firms, check out my YouTube channel for actionable tips and an insight into the lifestyle of a commercial lawyer in London.

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