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NEAR TRUTHS

Will Warner/Chappell Be Put On The Block?
By I.B. Bad

Without question, at this point, it's all about the regulatory process. With the potential WMG-EMI merger facing possible trouble passing EC regulatory standards, the most talked-about concession is the selling of Warner/Chappell publishing. Potential buyers in the $3 billion deal include Sony, Fox, BMG and Disney. That said, there's also buzz from publishing insiders that the sale of a designated number of copyrights by a merged EMI-Warner/Chappell would solve potential regulatory hurdles. Conventional wisdom still predicts a merged company would fall under martin bandier',390,400);">martin bandier',390,400);">Martin Bandier. That same wisdom also predicts substantial job losses under such a plan compared to a sale to the aforementioned suitors. Action to come... Plenty of talk over Bob Pittman's AOL subscription service with Sony and UMG. Where does an AOL-owned WMG fit into this scenario? Continued rumblings over a clash of business models between WMG and its future corporate overlords, with numerous music execs increasingly nervous over the fate of WMG content. One thing is certain: None of the subscription plans will be implemented until the regulatory process is cleared and the proposed mergers are closed... Back at UMG, employees who thought they were getting stock in the mid-to-high $70s per share as a result of the Seagram-Vivendi deal are hearing talk that places the stock price in the high $60s. Meanwhile, the corporate powers are speeding up the vesting process. As part of the new deal, 50% of the players' unvested stock becomes vested. Can you say, Cash Out?...

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