UMG MEANS BUSINESS IN MENA

Universal Music Group has entered into an agreement to acquire UAE-based music company Chabaka, which provides digital distribution, marketing, publishing and label and artist services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Following the acquisition, Chabaka will become part of UMG’s Virgin Music Group, working closely with the local Virgin and UMG MENA teams.

Founded in 2013 by brothers Ala’a and Tarek Makki, Chabaka (Arabic for "network") is part of the CHBK Group. It boasts offices across the MENA region and a catalog of songs from, and agreements with, over 150 independent artists and local labels.

Pictured in Uni's London offices are (l-r) UMG EVP, Market Development Adam Granite, Tarek Makki, Virgin Music Group co-CEO JT Myers, Ala’a Makki and UMG MENA Region CEO Patrick Boulos. After this photo was snapped, the text on the board behind them was changed to the phrase DO NOT TAKE CALLS FROM HITS, rendered in giant red letters.

The acquisition will allow UMG to expand its footprint and accelerate growth in the burgeoning MENA market, which last year saw a 23.8% increase in recorded-music revenue. Under the terms of the agreement, CEO Ala’a Makki and other key members of the Chabaka team will remain in their positions. Tarek Makki will continue in his role as adviser.

“As we expand our footprint in emerging territories all over the world, Chabaka represents an important creative hub in one of the world’s most promising music markets,” said Myers. “Ala’a Makki and his team bring a level of expertise and knowledge that will enable them to create opportunities for our artists and labels in the expanding MENA region, and in turn, we will be able to grow the global audience for Chabaka’s amazing roster of artists and labels.”

"These are exciting times for the region, which is one of the fastest-growing music markets in the world, and we are thrilled to announce the partnership between Chabaka and UMG," reads a quote from Ala'a Makki. "Joining forces with the leading music group in the world coincides with Chabaka’s 10th anniversary and marks an important milestone and a new phase for the company, our artists and labels. Together with UMG, we will drive the transformation of the regional music industry and take it to new places while creating new possibilities for our existing and potential local artists.”

"The MENA region is one of the fastest-growing music markets in the world, representing untapped potential and opportunity," noted Boulos. "Chabaka is a unique collection of visionary leaders, artists and labels, one that gives us both scale and opportunity, especially when combined with UMG’s world-leading global platform. I am particularly pleased that Ala’a Makki and his team will join us to drive the next chapter of Chabaka’s success as part of the UMG family.”

Photo: Jan Jack Klos

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