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NICOLI OPTIMISTIC

EMI Chief Says Company Outperformed Rivals
EMI's 70% slide in share price from a peak in January 2000 is consistent with other publicly traded media companies, EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in London.

Nicoli said Friday that EMI had, in fact, outperformed rivals AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal and Sony, according to published reports.

While not revealing figures, Nicoli said results during the first quarter of EMI's financial year had been in line with the company's expectations and possibly ahead of what people outside the company expected. "We are on course to produce a substantial improvement in operating performance," he said.

Calling EMI Music Publishing chairman Marty Bandier "the best music publisher in the whole world," Nicoli revealed that the company is set to acquire the remaining 50% of the Jobete song catalog early next year. Jobete contains the "classic standards of the Motown era," he said.

The $9.5 million severance package for former EMI Recorded Music chairman Ken Berry was criticized by shareholders at the meeting. Nicoli said that Berry's deal was consistent with the terms and conditions of his contract with EMI and was actually below the levels that his counterparts elsewhere in the music industry might expect.

Nicoli added that the system for EMI Recorded Music executives has since been overhauled, with lower base salaries introduced and bonuses tied to performance. Berry's successor, Alain Levy, has agreed to such terms.

As for EMI Recorded Music side, the company wants to achieve an 11-13% operating margin within three years.

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