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Nicoli called the price paid by Bronfman's group for WMG "a sign, perhaps, that we're not alone in believing in the future of the music industry and in the prospects for EMI."

NICOLI: EMI NOT LONELY

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Calling a merger with WMG "desirable" but "not imperative," EMI Chairman Eric Nicoli painted an upbeat picture at a 12/10 investors' presentation, notes The Hollywood Reporter.

Nicoli cited the company's 14.6% cash-flow margin for the last year, which is on a par with that of market leader UMG, as proof of EMI's "ability of flourish as a stand-alone company."

And though he downplayed rumors of a potential merger for his company in the near future, he did point out that the amount paid by Edgar Bronfman's financial consortium for WMG indicates that "the value of EMI's stand-alone music company may be somewhat higher than the current market value."

He added that if the "multiple" of the WMG deal were applied to EMI stock, the latter would jump 40%, which he called "a sign, perhaps, that we're not alone in believing in the future of the music industry and in the prospects for EMI."

Nicoli found further encouragement in Q4 sales gains. "This is certainly partly release-driven," he averred, "but it does indicate that when there's good music around, people will buy it."

Overall, he said, "We remain focused on building our very good business by pursuing the same strategy and applying the same disciplines that have worked well for us in recent years."

Nicoli then demonstrated his commitment to enjoying a merger-free life by eating donuts on the couch while watching ESPN.

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