Now comes word that Hands may lose control of EMI by Christmas, as talks with Citi to resolve the impasse intensify.

I.B. BAD ON THE YEAR IN MUSIC:
HANDS’ FOLLY, PUBLISHING IN FLUX

EMI Owner May Be Out of Moves, as BMG Rights Management, WMG Close in for the Kill
Here are the biggest stories of 2010, 12 months of heated activity in all the key sectors of the industry: records, publishing, digital and touring. We continue our look back at another wild and challenging year with the ordeal of Guy Hands—and by extension, EMI—and, in what turns out to be a closely related subject, the year in music publishing.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: Increasingly desperate Terra Firma chief and EMI owner Guy Hands managed to persuade Terra investors to fork up $156 million so that EMI could meet its most recent debt covenant with Citigroup, even as the bank rejected his latest proposal to restructure the loan. Hands (who has invested $290 million of his own money in EMI) will be hard-pressed to get investors to peel again after his humiliating courtroom defeat this fall, as a New York jury found no substantive basis for his allegations that onetime friend David “Worm” Wormsley had purposely deceived him into thinking there was at least one other interested bidder for EMI, causing Hands to pay a grossly inflated $6.7 billion for the company. What followed was the inevitable media speculation about a possible sale of the struggling company’s recorded music assets to Warner Music—a scenario we’ve continually dusted off for more than a decade now. Now comes word that Hands may lose control of EMI by Christmas, as talks with Citi to resolve the impasse intensify.

PUBLISHING: The most stable sector of the music business was in flux, as BMG Rights Management, a joint venture between Bertelsmann and New York private equity firm KKR, began gobbling up pubberies like Pac Man, culminating its first year with the biggest prize—Chris Wright’s Chrysalis Music—which doubled its catalog to 200k copyrights in one fell swoop. Expect the company, led by Hartwig Masuch and Richard Blackstone, to become an increasingly significant player in 2011… Roger Faxon transitioned from heading EMI Music Publishing to taking the helm of the entire EMI Group. Meanwhile, EMP became a prospective 2011 acquisition target pending the resolution of Hands’ ongoing struggle to keep EMI out of the clutches of Citi, which most expect will sell off the two halves of the company separately if it comes to that. In contrast to this volatility, Marty Bandier’s Sony/ATV, the Scott Francis-led Warner/Chappell and Universal Music Publishing remained rock-solid, throwing off revenue as always, while Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave continued its expansion.

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