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Warner boss discusses Parlophone plans in memo

By | Published on Friday 26 April 2013


The boss of Warner Music has issued a memo to staff with some information about the integration of the Parlophone Label Group with the mini-major. The memo was seemingly circulated to coincide with a filing with the US Securities And Exchange Commission covering some specifics regards the financing of the deal.

As previously reported, when it acquired EMI last year, Universal Music was forced by competition regulators to sell the Parlophone Label Group – which includes the UK-based Parlophone frontline label and catalogue, some more British EMI archive, and EMI operations in various other European markets – and it was announced that Warner would buy it in February in a £478 million deal.

In his memo, Warner boss Stephen Cooper tells his staff that the deal, which itself is subject to regulator approval, has been given the green light by the authorities in Brazil and US, and is on track to be completed this summer. The main hurdle in that regard was always going to be the European Commission, though with Europe’s indie label community smiling on this deal, no major issues are expected there either.

Cooper went on to describe his plans for Parlophone once the deal is done. He confirmed that Parlophone will operate as another frontline label within the Warner business, alongside Atlantic and Warner Bros, suggesting the brand will become active in more territories than under EMI. He added that the classical catalogues and brands that would also come with the acquisition would be used to “reinvigorate” Warner’s approach to the genre.

And that’s not the only area in which Cooper hopes the Parlophone acquisition will provide a catalyst for change within the Warner business. The CEO notes that the arrangement will also strengthen Warner Music’s presence in a number of European territories, before adding that he saw the expansion as a “catalyst for a new global catalogue strategy”. As previously reported, in the US Warner has more closely aligned its record label catalogue operations with its music publishing business, and it will be interesting to see if the new “global strategy” mirrors those efforts.

Cooper’s memo didn’t go into any detail about his agreement with the European independent community to work in partnership with some indie music companies to capitalise on the potential of the Parlophone Label Group catalogue. That, of course, could well be the most interesting element of this merger, though the specifics may well not be worked out until the PLG acquisition is properly completed.