Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

Hedge-fund billionaire William Ackman’s deal for a stake in Universal Music Group wouldn’t be his family’s first brush with the music industry—though it could be more lucrative.

His grandfather, Herman Ackman, wrote a song in 1926 that he sold for $150 on Tin Pan Alley, the old-time New York City hub of publishers who dominated pop music. “Put Your Arms Where They Belong (For They Belong to Me)” turned out to be a hit, with more than 750,000 copies sold.

Mr. Ackman opened his first meeting with Universal management with the tale, according to people involved in the deal.

Executives at the largest music company in the world connected the dots to find that Universal, through acquisitions over the past century of music-business consolidation, owns Mr. Ackman’s grandfather’s recordings. While the companies were going back and forth on the mechanics of the potential special-purpose acquisition company deal, Universal executives tracked down two 78s of the song and the sheet music, then mounted and framed them as a gift to Mr. Ackman, according to the people.

If the transaction goes through, the bid by Mr. Ackman’s Pershing Square Tontine Holding Ltd. for 10% of Universal Music Group would mark a new high point in the industry’s resurgent growth, which has sparked interest from Wall Street investment and private-equity firms such as KKR & Co., to everyday investors like those who can buy shares in publicly traded music-investment company Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd.

By rahul