Warner Music Group Purchases Parlophone
February 7, 2013

Warner Music Group has won the auction to acquire the famous European Parlophone Label Group, as part of Universal Music Group's sell-off of former EMI assets. The Financial Times reports that the price tag came in much higher than expected at £487 million (or roughly $765 million), allowing UMG to "recoup almost half of the money it spent on EMI." The sale is an all-cash deal.

Len Blavatnik, Chairman and founder of WMG owner Access Industries, said in a statement, "This is a very important milestone for Warner Music, reflecting our commitment to artist development by strengthening our worldwide roster, global footprint and executive talent."

WMG CEO Stephen Cooper said, "Having the Parlophone Label Group become part of our family represents a unique opportunity for us to join with legendary record labels and artists that are highly complementary to our existing organization from a creative, geographic and strategic standpoint. We are committed to making this a great outcome
for Parlophone's artists and employees, who will find in WMG a similar spirit and culture that is dedicated to providing the most supportive and innovative home for recording artists. The continuation of the Parlophone legacy and brand are central to the future success of this combination, and we are proud to have them join us."

In a statement from UMG, Chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge adds, "Following this transaction, we will continue with our global reinvestment program that is rebuilding EMI and ensuring that the company is able to reach its full potential. And we’re satisfied that our agreement with Warner Music will provide a home for PLG artists."

The Financial Times notes that WMG has been beat out multiple times in the past when bidding on EMI and its assets. Warner's "relatively small market share" overseas should allow the deal to pass the European Commission without much opposition. The FT adds that "Warner was seen as being able to extract more savings from the acquisition than other bidders, but its victory will surprise some industry members who thought that the U.S. group’s vocal lobbying against Universal’s EMI deal could count against it in the auction." Sources also told the paper that WMG's bid was at least $100 million higher than the other bidders for Parlophone.

The Parlophone Label Group is comprised of the historic Parlophone label and Chrysalis and Ensign labels as well as EMI's recorded music operations in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden. Its artist roster and catalog of recordings include, among many others, Air, Coldplay, Daft Punk, Danger Mouse, David Guetta, Deep Purple, Duran Duran, Edith Piaf, Gorillaz, Iron Maiden, Itzhak Perlman, Jethro Tull, Kate Bush, Kylie Minogue, Maria Callas, Pet Shop Boys, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner and Tinie Tempah.

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Mark Adams
San Francisco

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