UMG acquires ARS Entertainment

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BRUSSELS -- Universal Music Group has acquired Belgian indie ARS Entertainment and its publishing arm BMC Publishing for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition, which was sealed on Sept. 20, is taking place through Universal Music Belgium and is expected to strengthen UMG's position in the Belgian market.

Patrick Busschots, ARS Entertainment's managing director, will take on the same role at the newly expanded Universal Music Belgium, effective Oct. 1.

ARS will then become a Universal Music Belgium label focussing on domestic repertoire and branded compilations. The rights to ARS artists, which include local acts Laura Lynn, M-Kids and Nailpin, and its repertoire transfers to Universal Music Belgium from the beginning of 2008.

Busschots will report to Vico Antippas, UMG International senior VP and president of its Nordic, Central and Eastern Europe businesses.

The addition of BMC's publishing business, ARS' production company, plus its DVD and books units enables Universal Music Belgium to broaden its multimedia entertainment portfolio and activities, in line with Universal Music Group as a whole.

"It will be our task to develop new talent and to broaden our catalog with books and DVDs," Busschots says. "We also believe there's quite some future in 3-D animation and other spin-offs (with music components) in merchandising and tours."

As the new managing director of Universal Music Belgium Busschots will replace incumbent Dirk De Clippeleir, who recently left the company after 10 years.

Busschots says ARS Entertainment will gradually relocate its operations from Kontich to the Universal Music Belgium's Brussels headquarters.

Peter Decraene, ARS' director of business affairs, will become head of publishing of the new Universal Music Belgium.

Universal executives Jean-Pol Boone (country manager Belgium & Luxembourg for Universal Music Digital & Line Extensions), Stefan de Bande (sales director), Niels Dierckx (head of marketing) and Gunther Volckaert (financial director) will retain their existing positions.

But UMG declines to disclose whether the new acquisition will lead to job losses.

ARS was launched as a record store in 1976 before it grew to become a multimedia venture with a production company, a label and, more recently, a DVD and books business.
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