Simon Cowell has sold a stake in his entertainment empire for a staggering £86 million (NZ$150m) in a deal that means a windfall for his friend Sir Philip Green, it can be revealed.

The music mogul, 57, has signed a new deal giving Sony a share in Syco, which owns the rights to the hugely lucrative X Factor and Britain's Got Talent brands, as well as a number of successful recording artists.

Sony paid NZ$91.2m in cash in 2015 and will pay a further £33.4 (NZ$58.1m) by 2021, newly released accounts show.

L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell on the 2012 set of The X Factor.
L.A. Reid, Demi Lovato, Britney Spears and Simon Cowell on the 2012 set of The X Factor.

It is understood Cowell has received an incredible £45 million from the initial payment. His friend and business associate, the shamed retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, has also received a cut as he was a 10 per shareholder in Syco Holdings, the firm set up to receive the investments.


Other documents show the two men also received lucrative dividend payments from Syco Holdings: Cowell, 57, was paid £1.5m (NZ$2.6m) while Sir Philip - under fire for his role in the collapse of BHS - received £68,049 (NZ$118,537).

Cowell - who has launched the careers of some of the world's most successful pop stars - is already worth an estimated £340m (NZ$592m), according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

But the deal means he now only has a 20 per cent stake in the entertainment firm he set up in 2002.

He first teamed up with Sony in 2010, setting up a joint venture called Syco Entertainments - in a deal which was said to have earned him an estimated £27m (NZ$47m). Its first project was launch of a US version of The X Factor.

The company is now home to internationally renowned recording artists, including Little Mix, Susan Boyle, Ella Henderson, Il Divo, Fleur East and Fifth Harmony, while its television arm also includes Britain's Got Talent.

It was announced in July 2015 that the deal would be extended by six years, until 2021, but the amount paid was not disclosed at the time.

Now, the Mail can reveal this contract was worth £86.5m (NZ$150.6)- with Cowell receiving most of the cash.

Accounts filed this week for Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd state that in July 2015, "the company acquired a 50% in Syco Holdings Ltd' - one of a number of companies controlled by Cowell - 'for a total consideration of £86,456,000 (NZ$150,601,480)".

Of this, £52,405,000 (NZ$91,286,557) "was paid in cash", with the rest to be paid by 2021.

It means Sony now has a 75 per cent stake; Cowell 20 and Sir Philip, five.

The disclosures come at a trying time for Cowell, who has a son Eric, two, with partner Lauren Silverman, 39.

The flashy television personality, known for his trademark white T-shirts and slicked back hair, has seen profits in his production company, Simco, fall by £11m (NZ$19.1m)- a cut of almost a third.

The dip was blamed on releasing fewer records and falling record sales.

The disappointment came after 2015 winner Louisa Johnson failed to bag the coveted No 1 spot with her charity single cover of Bob Dylan classic Forever Young.

The record from the then 17-year-old became the lowest-selling winner's single in the show's history, peaking at just No 9 in the UK Top 40.

At the same time, audience figures for his talent shows X Factor and Britain's Got Talent have plummeted to their lowest ever levels while Cowell is facing competition from a rival talent show, launched on BBC by Gary Barlow called Let it Shine.

It was reported this week that Cowell had dropped plans to take legal action against Barlow amid concerns it was too similar to his programmes. He was advised such a case would be too difficult to prove, it was reported. Simon Cowell spokesman has not commented on the claims.

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Meanwhile, one of Cowell's most recent signings, rapper Honey G, did not even make it into the chart top 100 with her first single.

She was signed by Cowell's record label, Syco, after making it into the quarter finals of the X Factor - despite being accused of being a gimmick.

A Syco Entertainment spokesman declined to comment.