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Tuesday, February 9, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT

Business: The Economy

Iron Maiden rocks the bond market

Big in the heavy metal scene, big on the bond market

British heavy metal band Iron Maiden has launched its first hit on the bond market, selling securities worth $30m that are backed by the flow of royalties from recordings made during a 20 year career.

The band is effectively taking out a $30m loan and promises to pay back its creditors through future earnings - a financial tool called 'securitisation'.

Iron Maiden, the band released its first album in 1980, has sold a massive 45m records so far, and investors believe that song titles like 'Axe attack', 'Bring your daughter to the slaughter' and 'No prayer for the dying' ensure that the money will keep rolling in - with interest payments added.

In return lead singer Blaze Bayley, bass player Steve Harris, drummer Nick McBain and guitarists Janick Gers and Steve Harris can enjoy the fruits of their noisy work right now, without having to wait years until the money arrives in their bank accounts.

The next big bond thing

[ image: Investors love the look]
Investors love the look
Two years ago, music bonds looked set to become the next big fashion on the bond market, when UK rock icon David Bowie 'securitised' his future earnings in exchange for $55m, to be paid back in 10 years time.

In fact, the enduring popularity of the 'thin white Duke' is so high that analysts at Moody's, a ratings agency, gave David Bowie's bond their highest accolade, a triple-A rating. In return the artist had to pay less interest on his loan issue.

But since then only a few music bonds have been a hit on the financial markets.

One of them was the $30m 'Motown bond', backed by the royalties from 300 songs written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland. They were the men behind classics like 'Stop! In the name of love' and 'You can't hurry love' performed by the Supremes.

Songwriting duo Nicholas Ashford and Valerie Simpson - 'Ain't no mountain high enough' and 'I'm every woman' - managed to cash in their bonds to the tune of 30m as well.

Are you ready to rock'n'roll?

[ image: Davie Bowie, calling the investors]
Davie Bowie, calling the investors
Many other deals have not reached the stage, though. Several big-name artists have been rumoured to be close to a bond deal, among them 'the gloved one' Michael Jackson and 1970s stars Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Industry experts blame the peculiar nature of music bonds for the delay. They say that these bonds are extremely labour-intensive to put together and very difficult to structure. This has put off many Wall Street firms.

Michael Elkin, attorney at the law firm Thelen Reid & Priest, which structured the Iron Maiden deal, said these "transactions are not for the faint of heart, you have to be creative and have fortitude".

Nonetheless, he and his company hope to roll out two more music bonds during February.

Bond issues have become increasingly popular during the 1990s, as they allow lenders to spread their risk among many investors. In turn, borrowers find it easier to raise money on the market than from their bank - but only if they can rely on a good cash flow, from royalties for example.

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Iron Maiden - official site

Fontana's Iron Maiden page

Bruce Dickinson - ex-Iron Maiden lead singer

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