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With Cohen poised to assume the power position next to Blavatnik in the ongoing running of the company, it certainly appears that Lyor was Len’s guy all along.
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Sources are confirming that new Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik will further empower Lyor Cohen. WMG insiders expect Cohen to become Chairman/CEO of WMG worldwide now that Blavatnik has officially replaced Edgar Bronfman Jr. and his private equity partners as the owner of the company. Currently, Bronfman is thought to be concentrating on the acquisition of EMI and the regulatory issues that lay ahead. According to those in the know, Bronfman will become less involved in the running of the company now that he’s an employee, and in all likelihood he’ll no longer have an operational role after the EMI deal is completed. This begs the question: If Warner is unsuccessful in its bid, will Bronfman have any role at all in the company moving forward? Thus, it appears that Blavatnik wasn’t Bronfman’s white knight after all, this latest revelation lending credence to the theory that Bronfman actually opposed the decision to sell WMG. Insiders say the sale was pushed forward by Scott Sperling of T.H. Lee Partners as a way of exiting the seven-year-old deal, which saw investors get a big return on their investment despite the historic slowing of the music business during the same period. With Cohen poised to assume the power position next to Blavatnik in the ongoing running of the company, it certainly appears that Lyor was Len’s guy all along. Blavatnik’s anointing of Cohen as Warner’s ranking executive will stand as a major coup for the veteran, and if the EMI deal is made, he’ll have the third seat at the Big Three table alongside Doug Morris and Lucian Grainge. This would give that table an interesting dynamic, as the three all worked together at UMG… Imagining a Big Three scenario with a merged WMG-EMI based on year-to-date marketshare, WEMI would still be a distant third with 20.3% in new releases, compared to Sony Music’s 32% and UMG’s 30%… Given Sony’s #1 share, led by a red-hot Columbia, Morris has to be feeling good about his first week on the job… Whichever company or individual makes the winning bid for EMI, that’s only half the battle, considering the number of previous attempts made by Warner and EMI to combine, only to be turned away by the EU. It’s assumed that WMG and any other strategic bidders in the upcoming EMI derby have learned from history and are preparing preemptive measures such as bringing in a financial partner up front and laying off certain assets prior to going through regulatory… UMG managed to smoothly maneuver its way through the EU gauntlet in its 2008 acquisition of BMG Songs where others had failed altogether or faced additional scrutiny, as in the case of Sony BMG… Among the others expected to chase EMI are the Gores brothers and Ron Perelman on the financial side, along with strategic players BMG Rights Management and Live Nation… The X factor in the coming regulatory intrigue is Impala, which is already on record as vehemently opposing a Warner-EMI tie-up and would obviously be just as adamant, if not more so, about Sony or UMG buying the company… Steve Bartels is finally getting the opportunity to solely run a label thanks to boss Barry Weiss’ restructuring of UMG East, resulting in IDJ’s go-to guy getting the top spot at the company. The reorganization under Bartels is in full swing, as longtime IDJ A&R gunslinger Karen Kwak stays on, while Rick Sackheim is thought to be getting a major bump in his responsibilities. Look for hot young manager Brandon Creed (Bruno Mars) to take on an A&R consultancy at IDJ, as Weiss and Bartels fill the A&R space left by L.A. Reid’s move to Epic. In being named to the post, Bartels, who served as Reid’s right-hand man for 11 years at Arista and IDJ, now gets a big vote of confidence from Weiss and Grainge. In related news, Steve Gawley becomes head of business affairs for Weiss, overseeing the latter’s East Coast empire… Sackheim’s probable elevation is one of numerous expected changes in the promotion landscape, particularly in New York, as various label staffs begin to take on new shapes. Peter Gray’s recent move from RCA/RMG to the top spot at Warner/Reprise is but one move on the promotion chessboard, while the next moves of Todd Glassman, Erik Olesen, Richard Palmese and Jacqueline Saturn remain to be seen… In the “careful with that mouse” department, there’s a lot of chatter about the manager who cost his client big money on a huge deal that suddenly went south when he inadvertently hit “reply all.”... Names in the rumor mill: Matthew Knowles, Faisel Durrani, Mike Caren, Todd Moscowitz, John Branca, Abbey Konowitch, Sylvia Rhone, Adam Granite and Lee Stimmel.
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