[JPL] EMI taken over by Citigroup

Doug Crane dcrane at comcast.net
Tue Feb 1 16:43:20 EST 2011

 From BBC News:

1 February 2011 Last updated at 14:36 ET

EMI taken over by Citigroup in deal to write off debts
Tinie Tempah EMI, whose artists include Tinie Tempah, will eventually be 
sold on by the US bank

US banking giant Citigroup has taken over the ownership of EMI, the 
music company where it was the major creditor.

The bank had loaned money to Guy Hands' private equity firm Terra Firma 
to help it to buy the business in 2007.

But the £4.2bn takeover was a failure, with Terra Firma believing it 
massively overpaid for the company.

Now it has been forced to hand EMI over to Citi after not being able to 
keep up interest payments on the loans.

'Positive development'
EMI, which is home to artists including Lily Allen, The Beatles, 
Coldplay and Tinie Tempah said it would continue under the same 
management and that it was now completely separate from its previous owner.

Citigroup, which provided Terra Firma with loans to help finance 
takeover, said it would eventually sell EMI.

Industry speculation suggests another record label would probably be the 
buyer - with Warner Music among the more likely candidates for the 
recorded music business. Meanwhile its publishing operation may be sold 
to another private equity firm, KKR, says BBC business editor Robert Peston.

Terra Firma and its backers have lost the entire £1.7bn they put into EMI.

Meanwhile Citigroup has written down what it is owed from £3.4bn to 
£1.2bn - which meaning that it has incurred a loss of £2.2bn.

Analysts had predicted Citi would eventually seize control, but 
developments have happened more quickly than most had expected.

Citi vice chairman Stephen Volk said EMI now had a strong balance sheet 
and "the ability to invest in and grow its business".

"This is a positive development for EMI, its employees, artists, 
songwriters and suppliers. EMI is an iconic business and we are 
completely supportive of both its management and its strategy," he added.

In a statement Terra Firma said it was "pleased that EMI's debt burden 
has been reduced through Citi agreeing to write down a substantial 
proportion of EMI's debt".

In October, a New York judge dismissed a claim by Mr Hands that Citi had 
misled it over the acquisition.

He had argued he had not been informed that a rival bidder had already 
pulled out, resulting in his firm overpaying for the record company.

Last month Terra Firma said its lawyers had appealed against that 
decision. The US Court of Appeals will now have to decide if the appeal 
can go ahead.

Over the past two, Mr Hands has floated all manner of possible solutions 
to raise enough money to prevent the bank seizing control of EMI.

They included splitting EMI into two and even selling off assets such as 
the world-renowned Abbey Road studios.

But his best hope was to lease the North American rights to EMI's back 
catalogue to another of the Big Four major labels - but that aspiration 
collapsed amid arguments over price.

The purchase of EMI by the private equity firm brought it into conflict 
with some of its artists who said that financial matters were taking 
priority over creativity.

Radiohead, one of the label's biggest acts, left EMI saying the owners 
did not understand the music industry, with lead singer Thom Yorke later 
claiming music was being "devalued" by the involvement of a private 
equity firm treating bands "as simply part of their stock".

The Rolling Stones and Joss Stone were among others who left the label 
under Terra Firma's ownership.

     REPORTER: What do you think is happening to the team?
     MICHAEL RAY RICHARDSON: The ship be sinking.
     REPORTER: How far can it sink?
     MICHAEL RAY RICHARDSON: Sky's the limit.

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