Music business

Citigroup takes control of EMI

NEW YORK – Citigroup, the U.S. banking conglomorate, has seized control of EMI Group Ltd. from troubled financier Guy Hands and his Terra Firma private equity firm, acquiring 100 % of the share capital on a restructuring that saw EMI's debt load cut to £1.2 billion from £3.4 billion.

The transaction reportedly ends a financial roller coaster ride that began with Hands's £4 billion buyout of the U.K.-based music group in 2007. That highly leveraged acquisition was financed with capital from Citigroup.

But declines in music industry revenue continued, and that coupled with the overall worldwide financial crisis left EMI struggling to meet their obligation. With Citigroup declining to renegotiate the debt, the conflict moved to a courtroom here in November. The jury decided Citi had not fooled Hands into paying too much for EMI.

"The recapitalization of EMI by Citi is an extremely positive step for the company," said Roger Faxon, EMI's chief executive, in a statement to the press. "It has given us one of the most robust balance sheets in the industry with a modest level of debt and substantial liquidity. With that solid footing, we are confident in our ability to drive our business forward," he added.

Besides Roxette, EMI is also home to a diverse roster of acts – from the Beatles to Katy Perry – and has a rich catalog of tunes to license. As a result, private-equity firms and rival music companies are reportedly jumping at the opportunity to buy some or all of it.  A Citigroup insider told Music Week the bank had little interest in keeping hold of EMI as a going concern. He said, "[Citi] has already been in talks with all the relevant majors about selling off the various parts of the company."

Additional reporting by Mathew James (onlywhenidream) in the U.K..

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

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February 1st, 2011

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