Sony will buy out Michael Jackson's half of Sony/ATV Publishing, take sole ownership of his Beatles' catalogue

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Sony Buys Michael Jackson's Stake in Music Catalog for $750M

For more than two decades, the world's largest music-publishing catalogue was split down the middle in ownership between Sony and Michael Jackson. But as of this month, that power structure will undergo a drastic change: Sony has agreed to buy out the Michael Jackson estate's half of Sony/ATV Music Publishing for $750 million.

In one of the most notorious deals in music history, Jackson famously purchased ATV Publishing for more than $41.5 million in 1985 — outbidding his friend Paul McCartney to acquire a significant amount of the Beatles publishing catalogue — and sold half of ATV's shares to Sony a decade later to form Sony/ATV. But when Jackson died, in 2009, he reportedly left his estate more than $500 million in debt (which the estate has largely resolved thanks in part to posthumous success). Last September, reports circulated that one side was looking to buy out the other after Sony initiated a clause in the contract that would allow such a deal, though it was unclear at the time who was buying whom. (Both sides were rumored to be interested in selling their stake.) It now appears that the Jackson estate, in a bid to free up its debt, has agreed to Sony's lucrative buyout.

See photos of Michael Jackson through the years:

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Michael Jackson (Through the Years)
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Sony will buy out Michael Jackson's half of Sony/ATV Publishing, take sole ownership of his Beatles' catalogue
CIRCA 1969: R&B quintet 'Jackson 5' pose for a portrait in circa 1969. Clockwise from bottom left: Michael Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jackie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Marlon Jackson. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
American singer Michael Jackson poses at a hotel while on tour with Jackson 5, London, England, November 1972. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
American pop singer Michael Jackson attends the opening of the stage musical 'Dream Girls,' In Los Angeles, 1983. (Photo by Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images)
Undated picture of US pop singer Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes pouring in on June 26 for the tortured music icon revered as the 'King of Pop.' AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read /AFP/GettyImages)
(FILES) US pop star and entertainer Michael Jackson (R) and actress Brooke Shields arrive at the shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles where Jackson is expected to run away with a major part of the Grammy awards on Febuary 28, 1984. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes pouring in on June 26 for the tortured music icon revered as the 'King of Pop.' AFP PHOTO/Alan ZANGER (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
American singer Michael Jackson (1958 - 2009) performing on stage, circa 1987. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
American singer Michael Jackson performing, 1987. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, UNITED STATES: American pop music star Michael Jackson sings 13 October 1988 at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland. AFP PHOTO/Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
(FILES) US pop star and entertainer Michael Jackson performs during the opening concert of the Asian leg of his 'Dangerous' world tour in National Stadium in Bangkok on August 24, 1993. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes pouring in on June 26 for the tortured music icon revered as the 'King of Pop.' AFP PHOTO/Pongsak CHAIYANUWONG (Photo credit should read PONGSAK CHAIYANUWONG/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 7: Singer Michael Jackson (R) and guitarist Slash of 'Guns and Roses' perform the opening number at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards 07 September held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. Jackson and sister Janet Jackson have been nominted for 11 awards for their video 'Scream.' AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
US pop star and entertainer Michael Jackson performs during a concert at Vincennes hypodrome on September 13, 1992. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes pouring in on June 26 for the tortured music icon revered as the 'King of Pop.' AFP PHOTO/Bertrand GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
(FILES) US pop star Michael Jackson waves to photographers during a press conference in Paris on March 19, 1996. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 after suffering a cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes pouring in for the tortured music icon revered as the 'King of Pop.' AFP PHOTO / VINCENT AMALVY (Photo credit should read VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 7: Michael Jackson (C) performs at Madison Square Garden in New York 07 September, 2001. It was the first of two performances in New York as part of his '30th Anniversary Celebration, the Solo Years.' AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read BETH A. KEISER/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: (FILES) This 06 July, 2002, file photo shows pop singer Michael Jackson (L) waving from his limo to fans in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. The child molestation trial against Jackson is scheduled to start 31 January, 2005, in Santa Maria, California. The star has denied 10 charges, including child molestation, plying a child with alcohol to seduce him and of conspiring to kidnap and falsely imprison a child and his family at his Neverland Ranch. He is free on a three million USD bail. AFP PHOTO/Doug KANTER/FILES (Photo credit should read DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: US pop singer Michael Jackson salutes the audience after recieving the Artist of the Century Award during the 29th Annual American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles 09 January 2002. AFP PHOTO/Hector MATA (Photo credit should read HECTOR MATA/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: US singer Michael Jackson and guitarist Dave Navaro perform during the Democratic National Committee (DNC) benefit concert, 'A Night at the Apollo', at the world-famous Apollo Theater 24 April 2002 in New York. The concert was to kick off a nationwide voter registration drive. AFP PHOTO/TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
404248 10: Musician Michael Jackson performs at the taping of 'American Bandstands 50th...A Celebration' television special honoring the music show April 20, 2002 in Pasadena, CA. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
BERLIN - NOVEMBER 19: Singer Michael Jackson holds his son eight-month-old son Prince Michael II over the balcony of the Adlon Hotel November 19, 2002 in Berlin, Germany. Jackson is in Berlin with his three children to accept a lifetime achievement award. (Photo by Olaf Selchow/Getty Images)
BERLIN - NOVEMBER 19: Singer Michael Jackson appears at the balcony of the Adlon Hotel with an unidentified child November 19, 2002 in Berlin, Germany. Jackson is in Berlin with his three children to accept a lifetime achievement award. (Photo by Olaf Selchow/Getty Images)
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 18: US musician Michael Jackson holds a child 18 July in Soweto, South Africa, where he laid a wreath at the memorial for students who died in an uprising on 16 June. Jackson sang a happy birthday song to South African President Nelson Mandela at a surprise meeting with the president shortly after he arrived in the country. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images)
SANTA MARIA, UNITED STATES: (FILES) This 13 November, 2002, file photo shows pop singer Michael Jackson arriving inside the Santa Maria Superior Court for a trial in which he is accused of canceling concert appearances and costing the promoter several million dollars. The child molestation trial against Jackson is scheduled to start 31 January, 2005, in Santa Maria, California. The star has denied 10 charges, including child molestation, plying a child with alcohol to seduce him and of conspiring to kidnap and falsely imprison a child and his family at his Neverland Ranch. He is free on a three million USD bail. POOL/SPENCER WEINER/FILES (Photo credit should read SPENCER WEINER/AFP/Getty Images)
SANTA MARIA, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Musician Michael Jackson signs autographs for fans as he arrives at his civil trial in Santa Maria Superior Court November 14, 2002 in Santa Maria, California. The artist is being sued for $21 million by his longtime promoter for backing out of two concerts. (Photo by Bryan Chan-Pool/Getty Images)
SANTA MARIA, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Pop star Michael Jackson testifies during his civil trial in Santa Maria Superior Court on November 15, 2002 in Santa Maria, California. The pop star is being sued for $21 million by his longtime promoter for backing out of two concerts. (Photo by Ed Souza-Pool/Getty Images)
SANTA MARIA, CA - DECEMBER 4: Singer Michael Jackson testifies during the morning session of his civil trial in Santa Maria Superior Court on December 4, 2002 in Santa Maria, California. The artist is being sued for $21 million by his longtime promoter for backing out of two concerts. (Photo by Jim Ruyman-Pool/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 27: (TABLOIDS OUT) Singer Beyonce' Knowles and singer Michael Jackson, winner of the 2003 Humanitarian Award, hug onstage at The 2003 Radio Music Awards at the Aladdin Casino Resort October 27, 2003 in Las Vegas, Neveda. For more information on Jackson's humanitarian efforts, go to musicforgiving.org. (Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
SANTA MARIA, CA - APRIL 30: Singer Michael Jackson gestures while departing the courthouse after his arraignment on April 30, 2004 in Santa Maria, California. Jackson plead not guilty to the grand jury indictment of numerous child molestation charges. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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The deal, which is expected to be closed later this year or early in 2017 following regulatory approval, will put Sony in sole ownership of the largest music-publishing catalogue in the world. It includes not only the rights to Beatles songs, but publishing for more than two million songs — including those by Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, Beyoncé, and dozens of other big names — and is estimated to be worth in the billions.

Although it might seem like Sony got the upper hand in this deal, at least in the long term, Jackson's estate scored big, too: As part of the buyout, Jackson's estate will get to keep his publishing and masters, retaining a ten-percent stake in EMI Music Publishing and Mijac Music. And Jackson's three kids, Prince, Paris, and Blanket, will inherit whatever's left of the $750 million, post-debt payments, which is set to be put in a trust fund with their names on it. Cha-ching!

See photos of The Beatles' most iconic moments:

13 PHOTOS
The Beatles Most Iconic Moments
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Sony will buy out Michael Jackson's half of Sony/ATV Publishing, take sole ownership of his Beatles' catalogue
The Beatles perform in Liverpool's Cavern Club, with Pete Best on drums, 1962. Best was fired from the group that same year, and replaced with Ringo Starr. (Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images)
1963: Rock and roll band 'The Beatles' pose for a portrait in 1963. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 7: The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, February 7, 1964. At top is Ringo Starr, middle row is John Lennon and Paul McCartney, lower level is George Harrison and unidentified flight attendant. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 9: The Beatles prepare for their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York, February 9, 1964. From left to right, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr (in background, on drums), George Harrison, John Lennon. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 16: The Beatles at Shea Stadium. Our Mets have displayed their antic behavior before some good crowds at Shea Stadium but last night's turnaway mob of shrieking teeners tested the solidity of the ballpark as they flocked to see Britain's moptop quartet in concert. Scores were injured in the crush or overcome by the humid heat but luckily no one required hospitalization. (Photo by Dan Farrell/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 12: PLYMOUTH HOE Photo of MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR and BEATLES, L-R: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr - posed, group shot - during Magical Mystery Tour. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
24th June 1967: British pop group The Beatles holding banners proclaiming 'All You Need Is Love' in four languages, in preparation for a global television performance of their song of the same name. (Photo by Doug McKenzie/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Paul MAC CARTNEY, George HARRISON, Ringo STARR and in front John LENNON interpreting the song I'M THE WALRUS disguised as animals, in a scene from the film MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
British musican and artist John Lennon (1940 - 1980) holds Japanese-born artist and musician Yoko Ono in his arms, December 1968. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)
The four members of the British group the BEATLES posing together on August 2, 1967. At that time they stopped their concerts, wore the moustache and announced their separation despite their last album to come, ABBEY ROAD in 1970. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Photo of BEATLES; George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John lennon & Paul McCartney with actress Jane Asher, Maureen Starkey and Pattie Boyd at a party to celebrate the musician's 25th birthday at Rishikesh, India, 25th February 1968. (Photo by Cummings Archives/Redferns)
Staff Photo by Jill Brady, Wednesday, August 9, 2006: Beatles Abbey Road record album. (Photo by Jill Brady/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
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