All posts tagged Roger Faxon
Universal Music Group and Sony Music continue to dominate the music biz storylines this year with the unpredictable conclusion of the EMI auction, Read more…
Numerous recent reports have Citigroup closing a deal (or two) for the sale of EMI by the end of this week, including a New York Post piece today claiming that a fight for the recorded music arm is down to billionaires Len Blavatnik, whose Access Industries now owns Warner Music Group, and MacAndrews & Forbes Worldwide chairman Rob Perelman. On the publishing side, KKR and Bertelsmann-backed BMG Rights Management is being called the clear frontrunner, though Sony still isn’t being completely counted out. New Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe who is said to be making the rounds in New York this week, is very familiar with EMI, previously serving as Bertelsmann CFO since 2006 until his recent promotion, where he kicked the tires on the music group prior to Terra Firma‘s acquisition of the company in 2007 and then again at EMI Music Publishing in 2009, in discussions that likely included Citi as well… As we mentioned back at the outset of summer, Warner Music and BMG all along have been the favorites to end up with EMI’s recorded music and publishing arms, though many other suitors entered the bidding fray as expected as well. Among the many questions we are hearing with regard to the likely new owners of EMI, is the fate of current executives on both sides following a deal – including EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon, WMG’s Edgar Bronfman Jr., Capitol & Virgin NA label prexy Dan McCarroll, EMI Music Publishing’s Big Jon Platt, BMG’s Hartwig Masuch and Laurent Hubert and many others… Stay tuned.
Last week saw reports that Apple has signed licensing agreements with EMI Music and Sony Music for its imminent cloud-music service, leaving Universal Music Group the sole holdout, though word seems to be that a deal is on the cusp. While many of those watching are predicting an announcement of the new service at Apple’s annual WWDC event in June, the other remaining issue is having deals in place with the major music publishing companies, which right now they don’t appear to have. According to a report on CNET, despite Apple’s previous stepping out with increased iTunes song-sample lengths without the approval of publishers that created a contentious situation, there isn’t much keeping the two sides apart on a cloud-streaming agreement… Most are already hailing Apple as the fait-accompli winner of the cloud music ‘wars’, though Amazon made a big wave this week by offering Lady Gaga‘s new album Born This Way at a deeply discounted price, a move that the WSJ paints as an offensive on the iTunes digital music dominance, though Amazon is still a long way from making a dent in iTunes stranglehold. According to the article’s sources, Born This Way sold between 250,000 – 350,000 across both online marketplaces in its first day… Over the weekend news surfaced that Access Industries and Len Blavatnik‘s offer for Warner Music was not the highest, a group including Sony Corp., Guggenheim Partners and Ron Perelman offered 3% more at $8.50 a share, though the deal would have been contingent on Sony board and partner approval. How this will effect the multiple shareholder lawsuits Warner is currently facing is yet to be seen… Speaking at e-G8 in Paris this week, Sean Parker made comments, as MediaMemo notes, that may explain his interest in the recent bidding on Warner Music, and could also portend future involvement in bidding on recorded music companies, an excerpt: I think that there is a pretty dramatic change in the way music is monetized that is on the cusp of happening. Back catalogues of record labels are going to become extremely valuable…If you believe this transformation is occurring, if you believe the broken distribution systems are on the verge of being fixed, those recordings are dramatically undervalued… And speaking of labels for sale, Forbes has a profile of EMI group CEO Roger Faxon, framing him as the key in the label’s recent turnaround, including major digital breakthroughs with Beatles and Pink Floyd catalogs, though his future at the company may depend solely on who the new owners will be… And is Facebook Music launching soon and on the back of Spotify?
In his first public appearance since the turnover of EMI Music to Citigroup, Terra Firma‘s Guy Hands said he is considering buying EMI, according to a report in Bloomberg, but that it is a “question of price,” adding, “They are going to auction it, and we will see if they can get more for it than we offered.” Addressing the split of EMI’s two divisions, Hands declared, “You’ve really got to keep the two together so that you have the stability of publishing’s earnings versus the volatility of the recorded music division.” Following the bank’s takeover of the music company, much of the publicity has shifted to EMI CEO Roger Faxon, and his rumored stealth efforts to save the label, being credited with leading a behind the scenes effort without Hands’ knowledge. Others in the know share that the spin has been well orchestrated leading up to Citi taking control, to keep Faxon’s place at the table moving forward… Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that Warner Music Group is trying to beat Citigroup to the finish line, hoping to get a sale in place before EMI. Particularly in light of the presumed interest in selling off its publishing division Warner/Chappell before EMI Publishing, as it would be hard pressed to compete. Interested bidders named include Zomba founder Clive Calder, Russian investor Leonard Blavatnik, Universal Music, Sony Music, KKR and music publishing giant Imagem. While whether or not WMG backers Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital and Providence Equity Partners are looking to cash out or just unload WC is unclear, the article claims CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is anything but ready to get out of the music business.
It was a question of when not if, and today comes the news that U.S. bank Citigroup has taken control of EMI Music from previous owner Terra Firma. In the deal, which sees Guy Hands relinquishing command of his firm’s most high-profile acquisition and the end of a dragged-out final act, EMI’s debt has been cut 65 percent, from 3.4 billion pounds to 1.2 billion pounds, and leaves current management, including CEO Roger Faxon, in place. The questions now turn to who will buy EMI, will Citi break up the recorded music and publishing divisions, how quickly will it go down and what effects will new ownership have in the mean time? For more coverage head here, here or here….
A couple of 2010′s most-followed music industry stories have headlines rolling out in the first week of the new year… Continuing with checkmarks in the positive column for EMI, is the announcement of a new 5-year deal with Pink Floyd, which also effectively ends the legal dispute between the band and label. Last year the band took action against its longtime label over the a-la-carte digital sale of their songs and online royalty payment calculations. While keeping the iconic group on the roster is another coup for new group chief Roger Faxon, and a reversal in the trend of big-name acts exiting their longtime relationships with EMI in recent years, the move can be seen as primarily an effort to retain as much value as possible in the event of a sale by debt-embroiled owner Terra Firma, which most still believe is likely… LimeWire has been busy dealing with the fallout of a recent final defeat in its lengthy legal battles, and yesterday The Hollywood Reporter legal blog posted details about the latest turn in the ongoing saga. Ahead of a final looming trial, which will determine the damages owed by the file-sharing site, lawyers for LimeWire are now attempting to force third-party licensees, so far only Amazon.com it seems, to turn over documents, including contracts, royalty payments and internal company communications relating to agreements with the labels. The judge in the case has already ordered record companies to turn over their information about royalty payments relating to alleged infringed upon works. This isn’t sufficient according to LimeWire’s attorneys. So far Amazon has not complied with the request, and it’s unclear if other licensees like Apple have also received similar requests. What is clear however, is that LimeWire is not going down quietly, and will do its best to shed light on licensing agreements heretofore kept in the dark.
More Bits & Pieces: LimeWire Pirated, Viacom Selling ‘Rock Band’, WMG Acquires Roadrunner & Faxon’s Memo
In a response to the surfacing of pirated LimeWire software online, LimeWire LLC has issued a cease-and-desist notice in an effort to stop the spread of the illegal software. The company was recently handed a permanent injunction, forcing the end of their distribution of the file-sharing software… Viacom has announced that they are selling Harmonix and have classified the Rock Band maker as a “discontinued operation” – the decision comes in response to falling sales for the once hugely popular game… After buying nearly 75% of the label in 2007, Warner Music Group has fully acquired Roadrunner Records. The label is expected to operate as an individual brand within the WMG stable… And Roger Faxon has issued a memo to EMI staff in response to the whirlwind of forecasting and speculation surrounding the label in the wake of the recent losing verdict for Terra Firma in their case against Citigroup. Billboard has the memo in full here…
In the wake of a courtroom defeat for Guy Hands and Terra Firma in the legal action brought against Citigroup, all talk has turned to the fate of EMI. With the likelihood of more investors stumping up funds to keep the company in control of its current owners slim, and a dept-for-equity swap with Citi or even licensing content to another major music group, an avenue that was explored previously, exist in the realm of possibility, almost all signs indicate that one way or another the music company will fall into new hands (no pun intended). The list of suitors currently being thrown around includes the usual suspects who have had an eye on EMI’s recorded and publishing sectors, such as BMG Rights Management, Warner Music Group and Sony/ATV. But a look at executive movement within EMI over the past months seems to indicate that a sale or break up of the company may have been a foregone conclusion. Back in June Roger Faxon was named Group Chief Executive, moving him over from his longtime leadership at EMI Music Publishing, and soon after executive house cleaning began with Faxon ultimately tapping Dan McCarroll to take the reigns as prexy of Capitol & Virgin Label Group just last month – McCarroll was also plucked from EMI’s pubco where he was previously EVP of creative. And last week saw the news of Rob Stevenson‘s exit from the label, after being installed as President of Virgin in 2008 under now departed Nick Gatfield. Names of possible replacements being rumored include more execs already planted within the EMI structure. So are all the internal moves simply a reversal in the earlier unsuccessful practice under Hands to bring in outsiders? Or as some are indicating, is it to minimize costs ahead of a sale and reduce the typically high expense of hiring outside for creative executive positions? Stay tuned…