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Contrary to reports, WMG is not negotiating to buy the 50% of Maverick it doesn’t already own. In addition, there are no plans to downsize or restructure the label, nor will it be folded into WB or Reprise.
WMG TO RESTRUCTURE
JOINT VENTURES
Maverick Safe, But Others Under The Microscope
In the wake of Warner Bros. Records Inc. Chairman/CEO Russ Thyret's departure comes talk that Warner Music Group has been in the process of re-evaluating several of its joint-venture label deals.

Contrary to numerous reports, WMG is not negotiating to buy the 50% of Maverick Recording Co., Madonna's co-venture with the company, it doesn't already own. In addition, there are no plans to downsize or restructure the label, nor will it be folded into Warner Bros. or Reprise, as had also been rumored.

WMG chief Roger Ames has given Maverick top dog Guy Oseary his blessing to run the company. Ames' vote of confidence in Maverick extends to the company's managerial team, headed by Oseary and Ronnie Dashev.

Oseary has been rebuilding the label's A&R team, bringing in former BMG Publishing head Danny Strick and former Giant exec Berko. Maverick has already signed such acts as Michelle Branch, Onesidezero and Stage and is re-launching its publishing division. Meanwhile, Tantric is climbing the Rock radio charts, and there's a good buzz on Amanda, which goes to radio next week.

Indeed, Ames is looking to Maverick to help build WMG marketshare.

As for such other joint ventures as Giant and Qwest, sources are singing a different tune.

The Giant situation is completely different. Irving Azoff's joint venture, which has been under-performing for the last couple of years, has been building momentum under chief Larry Jacobson, as Disturbed continues to sell past Platinum and Steely Dan, who nabbed the top Grammy prize, approaches Platinum status.

Chatter has Azoff asking Ames to pump more money into the label or buy him out, which would cost WMG under $20 million, sources said. A buyout would see the Giant acts being shifted over to Warner Bros. or Reprise. In addition, sources said, there have been requests made to move Seal, who is managed by Azoff, from Warner to Giant if the latter were to continue as a joint venture. Giant has two more years remaining on its deal with WMG.

Speculators are speculating that Ames is balking at Azoff's buyout price and is reluctant to toss additional cash at Giant to grow the label. The smart money, however, is on the relationship between Giant and WMG to remain the same.

In the case of Qwest, many claim the label's lack of commercial success probably will result in WMG exiting from the joint venture. A remnant of the Mo Ostin days, the label, headed by the legendary Quincy Jones, has not been very productive in recent years.

As for David Foster's joint venture, 143 Records, word is that he, too, has Ames' confidence, but the WMG exec would like to see the top producer getting more involved in 143 projects. Successes like the Corrs on 143/Atlantic have helped secure the label's place, although insiders point to a very rich deal that Foster signed with former WMG chiefs Bob Daly and Terry Semel.

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