Those who have done business with Morris and Grainge describe the former colleagues turned rivals as aggressive, competitive executives who play to win as they compete for deals and market dominance.


The Ramped-up Drama at EMI, the Duel Shaping Up Between Doug Morris and Lucian Grainge, the Talent Both Are Eyeing, Bronfman and Cohen’s Huge Windfall
As Citi prepares to undertake the auction of EMI, the big question is, can Roger Faxon find a financial player who can outbid the strategic players and thus keep the company intact? BMG, Sony and UMG will all be in this competition, as will financial bidders the Gores brothers according to one report, but new Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik is the morning-line favorite to snap up EMI and combine the two music groups. The conventional wisdom is that Blavatnik will get EMI thanks in large part to Edgar Bronfman’s relationship with Citigroup bigwig Dick Parsons, who sold WMG to Bronfman in 2003 while heading Time Warner. The skinny is that Parsons likes doing biz with the rich and famous Bronfman family, and that this deal is all but done despite the regulatory issues facing the tentatively combined Warner-EMI. Some are spinning that the Citi brass are unhappy with Faxon’s continually lobbying for EMI not to be broken up, while the bank is telling prospective buyers that splitting up the company is an option for the right deal. In this context, how good is Parsons’ memory? Does he recall how much time and money Time Warner spent 11 years ago during the Roger Ames regime at Warner Music in an effort to get the WMG/EMI deal through regulatory, only to hit a wall when then-EMI head Ken Berry refused to divest of Virgin in certain territories?... Currently, the contracts of many top label executives at EMI contain clauses by which they can give notice to exit the company. These clauses were enacted because of the ongoing anxiety surrounding the company during the last few years. Now, these same key executives are being offered huge bonuses—as much as a full year’s salary in some cases—to stay on through the completion of the sale process. But with Warner Music/Access Industries the presumptive favorite, these executives feel imperiled based on WMG’s intimation that it doesn’t really need most of them, as their attorneys try to figure out the best way to handle the situation... Meanwhile, the EMI team has hit the ball out of the park with Katy Perry’s second Capitol album, Teenage Dream, which has sold 1.6m units since its release last August, along with more than 18m singles... As Doug Morris ends his exile in Elba to take command of Sony Music on July 5, a fascinating plotline is developing between the new Sony and the new UMG. Those who have done business with Morris and Lucian Grainge describe the former colleagues turned rivals as aggressive, competitive executives who play to win as they compete for deals and market dominance. Among the names being bandied about that are of some interest to one or both of them are Jay-Z, Scooter Braun, Brandon Creed, Barbra Streisand, Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Scott Borchetta, Jody Gerson, the Eagles, Mariah Carey, Sylvia Rhone and Amanda Ghost. Both Morris and Grainge are notorious for trying to take deals off the table quickly before the competition has a chance to counter… On the eve of the Morris era, the Sony Music executive grid is still coming into focus. L.A. Reid, who’ll report directly to Morris as the head of the new Epic on his arrival in July, is still putting his team together, but the names of Richard Palmese, Tom Carrabba and Benny Pugh are being tossed around. Meanwhile, wonderers are wondering what happened to Ivan Gavin’s seat at the table. Word is he’ll be joining his old boss Barry Weiss at UMG as soon as he can get out of his current deal. As far as Reid’s other job is concerned, those who have seen some of the early X Factor tapings say he’s a natural, exuding charm and looking sharp, while Simon Cowell has reactivated his familiar dominating superstar persona… Little to no change is expected at Columbia, which has enjoyed considerable success under Rob Stringer and Steve Barnett, who will continue to report to Stringer. Not only is Stringer well-liked internally, he’s also getting high marks throughout the creative community. As for Rick Rubin, the once-ballyhooed Columbia creative czar has been out of the loop as a functioning executive at the label for more than 18 months, nor was he involved in the signing of AdelePeter Edge’s RCA/Jive posse, led by Tom Corson and Joe Riccitelli, looks solid, as does the roster, which boasts the likes of Alicia Keys, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Usher, Chris Brown, Pink, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake... Outside the U.S., there is much discussion as to who will be installed to run the show, with the international unit seen by many at Sony as an overall weakness of the company. Will current U.S.-based international head Richard Sanders be part of the solution?... There’s continuing activity at UMG East, where Weiss has done a remodeling job, consolidating the back-office functions of UMRG and IDJ, while also moving Motown’s current roster, Cash Money and SRC to Monte Lipman’s Universal Republic. Weiss and Lipman are talking to ex-Warner Bros. Records boss Tom Whalley about a joint venture for a West Coast-based imprint to fall under Universal's growing number of labels… In the “don’t believe everything you read” department, that rumor floated recently about the imminent demise of UMGD President/CEO Jim Urie is unfounded and borders on the preposterous, say UMG insiders. The really interesting aspect about said rumor has to do with who planted this story. Perhaps it was a disgruntled former employee or a rival executive attempting to create chaos inside Universal as the top brass undertakes a restructuring of the company... Warner’s recent SEC filings reveal that Bronfman and Lyor Cohen are scoring big off the sale, thanks to the Warner board’s decision to lower the price point of the stock options to vest from $10 and higher to as low as $7. The board agreed to change the price hurdle on Jan. 19, just one day before the news broke that Warner was putting itself up for sale, which caused the stock price to shoot up dramatically from the Jan. 19 close of $4.90, enabling Bronfman and Cohen to immediately cash out some of their stock options, giving them $17.3m and $7.13m, respectively. Their respective golden parachutes of $16.8m and $10m kick in on completion of the deal but are subject to shareholder approval; the vote is scheduled for July 6. If all goes well, Cohen will ultimately wind up with $40m should he cash out all of the options he owns… Lots of recent chatter regarding hot young attorney Aaron Rosenberg (Harvard Law ’02) of Myman Greenspan et al., whose client list is becoming increasingly star-studded... Names in the rumor mill: Hartwig Masuch, Guy Hands, Marty Bandier, Tommy Mottola, Peter Paterno, Marty Diamond, Mike Green and Erik Olesen.
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UMG jazz label has a new chief. (8/10a)
The stars of tomorrow—and one star of the moment (8/11a)
It's neck and neck at the turn. (8/11a)
Available online for the first time (8/3a)
How they're reshuffling the biz deck.
Thoughts on a changing landscape.
It's everywhere.
Another stunning return.

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