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Cohen blames Whalley for the American deal being so unproductive, while Whalley blames Cohen for foisting the arrangement on him in the first place.
I.B. BAD LOOKS AT BRONFMAN’S LATEST MANEUVERS
Between WMG-EMI and Cohen-Whalley-Rubin, WMG Chief Has His Hands Full
Edgar Bronfman Jr. is at it again, making yet another grab for EMI. But the move is a non-starter, says the smart money—in essence no more than another ploy to keep Warner Music stock from falling further.

WMG is now five months into its fiscal year, which began on an ice-cold note in the fourth quarter of 2006 and shows no signs of warming up in the coming months. Scott Sperling and company have already wrung practically all the possible cost savings out of WMG, so it appears Junior may be running out of moves in his last-ditch attempt to salvage what most industry observers now view as a fundamentally flawed business architecture.

In that regard, one of Bronfman’s most critical issues is what to do about Lyor Cohen, who appears to be miscast in his role as WMG’s North American head. Once celebrated as the king of hip-hop, a.k.a. “Lansky,” Cohen is gradually slipping behind the curve, as the genre’s commercial potency wanes, with rap accounting for just one of 2006’s Top 20 albums. In addition, Diddy’s Bad Boy, picked up by Cohen last year for mega-dollars, is hemorrhaging red ink, and Diddy’s Press Play has sold only 500k.

Another problem is the strained relationship between Cohen and Warner Bros. Records head Tom Whalley, who have been like oil and water from the getgo. The ongoing head-butting between the two executives has been exacerbated by Rick Rubin’s decision to move from WB to the Columbia co-chairmanship, leading to much finger pointing, with Cohen blaming Whalley for the American deal being so unproductive, while Whalley blames Cohen for foisting the arrangement on him in the first place. Cohen has supposedly confided to some that he’d gone as far as offering Rubin Whalley’s job in an attempt to keep him at WMG.

But Cohen may himself turn out to be a casualty by the time the conflict plays out, with the more well-rounded Whalley conceivably winding up as the victor rather than the victim in the next round of bloodletting.

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