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Many wondering whether Smellie’s presence keeps the significantly different cultures of Sony and BMG more in harmony, or whether having him in place simply gives the Berties a greater comfort level in the very Sony-fied corporate world.
I.B. BAD TAKES A SNIFF OF SBMG
Smellie Situation Exemplifies the Difficulties Involved in Blending Two Very Different Corporate Entities
CULTURE CLUB OR CULTURE CLASH? The industry grapevine is buzzing about a possible change of heart by outgoing Sony BMG COO Michael Smellie. Insiders saying that BMG brass (Davis and Goldstuck) have been trying to convince Smellie and Andy Lack to reconsider their decision and return him to his old post. The prevailing wisdom inside the BMG camp is that it’s a far better Sony BMG alliance with Smellie remaining in his current role rather than going Down Under… Many wondering whether Smellie’s presence keeps the significantly different cultures of Sony and BMG more in harmony (see Lack story), or whether having him in place simply gives the Berties a greater comfort level in the very Sony-fied corporate world. The internal culture clash is fundamentally fueled by the highly competitive natures of the two divisions… As we’ve been speculating in this space, Jason Flom seems to have decided to go for the glory, as he’s said to be on the verge of accepting EMI’s offer. The job Levy and Munns have earmarked for Flom would put him in the top spot at Virgin. But contrary to the rampant chatter that Flom will succeed current label topper Matt Serletic, those close to both executives believe that they could be working together. This outcome would be hardly surprising considering the fact that the two have been tight for years, and Serletic’s claim to fame as a producer is based on the Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas records he’s made for Flom—a job he’s continued doing since taking the top job at Virgin... Those in the know say that Allen Grubman, Flom's attorney, is busy working out the details of Flom’s contract with EMI’s attorneys... V2 Records is back in the news, as the ailing indie has a prospective buyer in Sheridan Square Entertainment, which last year acquired Artemis Records. Owner Richard Branson extremely unhappy with the U.S. results, and especially on the latest, critically acclaimed White Stripes album, Get Behind Me Satan, which to date has sold a disappointing 550k domestically. Wonderers wondering whether Sheridan Square will shutter the operation and combine the V2 catalog with that of Artemis, or oversee the creation of a leaner, meaner V2… Speaking of the White Stripes, despite rumors that they’ve signed a new deal with Interscope, word from the band’s camp is that they have not signed with anyone…yet. Jack White is believed to be at the very top of Jimmy Iovine’s shopping list… SoundScan parent company VNU, which is reportedly contemplating the selling off of its trade magazines, Billboard and Hollywood Reporter, is said by insiders to be calling the bluff of UMG, which recently trumpeted its intention to pull out of SoundScan at year's end. Some believe that UMG is willing to live with less information until it has the wherewithal to build a viable service of its own… On another front, contrary to the rumors that UMG is ready to fight Eliot Spitzer as the N.Y. Attorney General’s pincers begin to tighten, UMG, WMG and EMI would all prefer to settle with Spitzer under similar terms as Sony BMG did in order to remove what has become on ongoing distraction… Merger watchers saying that EMI has not come up with an offer for Warner Music that is satisfactory to the controlling investment cartel of Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital, Providence Equity Partners and Edgar Bronfman Jr. With the mandatory six-month lock-up expiring in November, any or all of the above equity partners will soon be able to dump millions of WMG shares—providing, of course, that they can find willing buyers—enabling them to pocket a hefty profit and move on to the next killing. If that scenario does transpire, Warner Music will be far more difficult for EMI or any other entity to acquire, with shares spread all over the map. According to investment experts, EMI must move quickly or the window of opportunity could slam shut. The latter outcome would be preferable to Bronfman, whose ego and lifestyle demands that he remain a music industry baron… Names in the Rumor Mill: Roger Ames, Joel Katz, Tony Martell, Ian Montone, Joe Bianco and Lucien Grainge.
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