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Giving private equity a chance

Lisa Napoli May 22, 2007
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TEXT OF INTERVIEWLISA NAPOLI: Private equity buyers in Britain have their sites set on one of the world’s top music companies. Lars Brandle of Billboard says the offer comes as EMI announces a huge loss and a massive decline in sales.

LARS BRANDLE: Well everyone who’s been keeping an eye on EMI knew that an offer was eminent, but what is surprising about this particular bid is the timing of it. It was made about half an hour before the London Stock Exchange closed for the evening yesterday. And what’s more is EMI, with the announcement, rolled in some pretty dour financial figures for its last financial year. So effectively I think you could say it was a good day to bury some bad news and EMI definitely did that.

NAPOLI: Let me ask you this: Why would anybody want to buy a music company in this day and age? It seems like a big headache with everything that’s going on digitally.

BRANDLE: Yeah it does seem like a big headache. And the chief executive of EMI Eric Nicoli has recently wielded the ax and he’s streamlined the company. But Terra Firma, the private equity firm which has come in with this bid, it’s played with roughly 9 billion euros with companies so this company must have an idea what it wants to do with EMI.

NAPOLI: What do we know about Terra Firma and why would they be more attractive than say Warner Music which has wanted to buy EMI, it seems like a more natural fit?

BRANDLE: Yeah absolutely. The problem with Warner Music is the fact that any merger between two companies would require clearance from European regulators so that would be a serious series of events for both companies to have to walk through and it’s very expensive. So to be bought out with cash by a third party would just be an easier option.

NAPOLI: That was Lars Brandle of Billboard in the U.K.

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