The “big four” record labels may soon become the “big three,” if a deal regarding a division of EMI comes to fruition. Times Online reports private equity firm KKR is working with Warner Music, another “big four” label, on making a bid to break up EMI, which is expected to be put on sale this summer.
In case you need clarification on how major this move could be, EMI’s library includes recordings by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Nat King Cole, Bobby Darin, Black Sabbath, and Queen. Current EMI artists include Coldplay, Katy Perry, Beastie Boys, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, and Robbie Williams. You get the idea.
KKR is eyeing EMI’s music publishing arm, while Warner wants the recorded music division. They will likely not get both, as The Wall Street Journal notes, due to antitrust concerns. In 2000, EMI and Warner had a merger set before European Union regulators stepped in.
KKR/Warner have made no actual contact with EMI yet; EMI is busy preventing the possibility of its lender, Citigroup, taking over the company in June. The label is currently in debt to Citigroup for billions and must come up with a rescue plan in the next three weeks.
To add insult to injury, Pink Floyd kind of owned EMI last week. In summary, EMI isn’t doing too well and it looks like Radiohead bailed just in time.