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Bowie bonds nearing junk status

When the back catalogue of David Bowie was offered on Wall Street, the $55 million deal for future royalties on classics like The Man Who Sold The World was hailed as a new form of intellectual property securitisation.22 Mar 2004

Citing weak sales of recorded music and a downgrade to an unnamed company guarantor, leading credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service downgraded the bonds on Friday. They have gone from an A3 rating to Baa3 – one notch above junk status, according to reports by Associated Press and Dow Jones.

Bowie made $55 million when he sold the future rights to 287 across 25 albums recorded before 1990 in January 1997. The idea of artists raising funds secured by future royalties of their work became known as Pullman Bonds, named after the banker David Pullman who drove the Bowie deal.

Only a few similar deals have followed since. Notable signings came from songwriting duo Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson – who offered the rights to 247 songs including Ain't No Mountain High Enough and I'm Every Woman as backing for a $25 million bond issue in 1999.

The same year, $30 million deals were signed for the rights to the back catalogues of each of James Brown and Iron Maiden.