Herb Alpert’s Vivendi Deal Has $200-Million Encore Performance

Times Staff Writer

Trumpeter-businessman Herb Alpert and partner Jerry Moss have gotten down to brass tacks with Vivendi Universal, collecting an additional $200 million from the French giant for a music publisher they sold three years ago.

The payment, in cash and stock, was part of a contractual guarantee connected with the sale in 2000 of independent publisher Rondor Music.

Alpert and Moss originally sold Rondor to Seagram Co. Shortly thereafter, Seagram was gobbled up by Vivendi.


The pair were to be paid 6 million Seagram shares, then valued at $350 million. But the deal required Vivendi to offer an additional payment if its shares fell below $37.50.

Alpert and Moss sold their Vivendi stock in April and May, when it traded in the $30 range, the Paris-based company disclosed Tuesday. That triggered the additional compensation.

The shares had been plunging amid Vivendi’s financial crisis last year.

Vivendi said it paid the music entrepreneurs extra compensation of 8.84 million shares and a $100.3-million cash payment. At current exchange rates, the shares are valued at $109 million.

Payment of the debt to Alpert and Moss marks an additional headache for Vivendi, which is trying to raise money by selling assets.

Rondor controls a 60,000-tune catalog that includes classic numbers by Otis Redding, Al Green and the Beach Boys, as well as the soul songs in the legendary Stax collection.

The publisher is headed by Lance Freed, son of the famed 1950s rock deejay Alan Freed. One of its first compositions was “Lonely Bull” recorded by Alpert and his band, the Tijuana Brass. The song was cut for A&M; Records, then owned by Alpert and Moss.


The pair sold the thriving label, which released music by such acts as Peter Frampton and the Police, to PolyGram nearly 15 years ago for about $500 million. Seagram acquired A&M; as part of its $10.4-billion purchase of PolyGram in 1998.

Alpert and Moss later filed a $200-million lawsuit alleging that the consolidation of Seagram’s Universal Music Group and PolyGram violated terms of their A&M; sale. They agreed to settle their dispute as part of the sale of Rondor to Seagram.

Alpert declined to comment through a spokeswoman. Moss could not be reached.