Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The future of EMI is now in the hands of a US bank

It’s not good news when a bank takes over your business. If you’re a record label already under the cosh because people are no longer buying your products, the arrival of the bankers in reception is really not something you …

Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 09:55

   

It’s not good news when a bank takes over your business. If you’re a record label already under the cosh because people are no longer buying your products, the arrival of the bankers in reception is really not something you want to see.

This week, US bank Citigroup took over EMI, the music group which is home to Coldplay, Gorillaz, Robbie Williams, Daft Punk and the back-catalogues of The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead.

The bankers are in control because Terra Firma, the Guy Hands-run company which bought EMI in 2007 and had great ideas about to change everything, racked up debts of £3.4 billion.

Citigroup moved in, restructed the debt and are now looking for someone to buy the company. Obviously, the bankers haven’t an iota of interest in running a music company. Can you imagine Chris Martin in a A&R meeting with Citigroup about the new Coldplay album?

The big question is who will buy the company and what will they do with it. There’s plenty of potential bidders who may well spot untapped value in the company.

There’s been long-time speculation about a move from Warner Music, but they’re currently looking for investment to replenish their war chest. Private equity group KKR are said to be interested in EMI’s publishing catalogue so Citigroup could strip that out for a quick sale.

For EMI staff and acts, the pain will go on. After the mismanagement of the Terra Firma years, it has to be hoped that any new owner will actually have some understanding of how the record industry works and the challenges a brand like EMI now faces. You’d think that would be a given but, as we’ve seen already, logic often goes out the window in these circumstances.