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Warner’s acquisition of Parlophone complete

By | Published on Tuesday 2 July 2013


Warner Music yesterday completed its acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group, which constitutes most of the former European EMI units and catalogues that Universal Music was forced to sell by competition regulators when it acquired the British major last year.

It was confirmed that Warner would acquire the PLG in February in a £487 million deal. With the indie label community – often opponents to big deals between major music companies – immediately backing the transaction, the sale received the green light from European regulators in May.

At the core of the acquired unit, of course, is the UK-based Parlophone frontline label and catalogue (minus The Beatles archive, which stays with Universal), though Warner also acquires the Ensign and Chrysalis UK recordings (minus Robbie Williams), the EMI Classics and Virgin Classics divisions, and EMI units in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Artists whose recordings appear in amongst that little lot include Coldplay, Tinie Tempah, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Danger Mouse, David Guetta, Eliza Doolittle, Pablo Alborán, M. Pokora, Raphael, Mariza, David Bowie, Radiohead, Tina Turner, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Jethro Tull, Blur, Kate Bush, Daft Punk, Edith Piaf, Itzhak Perlman and Maria Callas.

Most of those assets will now operate under a new Parlophone division within the Warner Music Group, a new primary label that will sit alongside existing Warner flagship labels Warner Bros and Atlantic. Although with an obvious European focus initially, it may be that the Parlophone brand is subsequently extended into markets where it didn’t previously operate when part of EMI.

Welcoming the completion of the deal, the biggest single expansion of Warner since it was acquired by Access Industries in 2011, the boss of the parent company, Len Blavatnick, told CMU: “This is a defining moment for Warner Music, which is strengthened today by the addition of PLG’s acclaimed roster, renowned catalogue and gifted executives. This acquisition further cements Warner Music’s place as the world’s best home for extraordinary artists”.

Meanwhile Warner Music CEO Stephen Cooper added: “We are delighted to officially welcome PLG’s legendary roster and dynamic team to the Warner Music family. This acquisition unites two companies synonymous with incredible music, pioneering labels and artists that have shaped genres and defined generations. By staying true to our shared values, leveraging our complementary strengths and investing in growth, we will build on that remarkable legacy to set new standards in artist development and drive industry-leading innovation. Above all, this historic deal will create global opportunities for great music talent”.

Speaking for Universal Music, the top man there, Lucian Grainge, focused on the good price his company secured in the sale of PLG, and the other EMI assets it was forced to offload in a much tougher than expected ruling from the European regulator. And while that ruling may have been disappointing at the time, the silver lining, an upbeat Grainge insists, is that that extra income will help in his bid to reinvigorate those EMI divisions Universal kept.

The Universal boss man told reporters: “Over the course of the past year, we successfully acquired the recorded music assets of the legendary British music company EMI, revitalised its iconic Capitol Records and Virgin Records, and further strengthened UMG’s position as the global leader in music. Now, given PLG’s strong valuation, the transaction’s proceeds provide us significant resources for our global reinvestment program rebuilding EMI, preserving its heritage and helping all of UMG lead the industry’s digital transformation – and even better able to serve artists, songwriters and business partners, while offering fans more choice”.

For the former EMI staffers who ended up within the PLG after Universal’s acquisition, and therefore were left somewhat in limbo as their former colleagues moved over to UMG, hopefully now there will be some closure after years of uncertainty, even if there is a little bit of inevitable downsizing as the actual consolidation of Warner and Parlophone occurs. As previously reported, Warner has recently revamped the top team within its international division, which coordinates affairs outside of North America, in part to prep for the integration of the PLG business.

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