Time Warner, EMI in Music Merger

Several news sources reported Saturday, January 22, that Time Warner is close to completing a merger with EMI Recorded Music. The combined company will be worth an estimated $20 billion, making it the world's second-largest music conglomerate, exceeded in size and scope only by Seagram Ltd.'s Universal Music. News of the deal came less than a week after the announcement of an impending merger between America Online, the world’s largest Internet service provider, with Time Warner, one of the world's largest media conglomerates.

The deal has been in negotiation for a long time, preceding the AOL/Time Warner deal by months. TW will combine its Warner Music Group with EMI, in a joint venture that will seat six TW executives and five from EMI Group PLC on the new company's board of directors. Gaining control of the venture is costing TW a cool $1 billion, according to Martin Peers of the Wall Street Journal. EMI's pop artists include the Spice Girls and the Rolling Stones. Warner Music's roster features Cher, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Madonna, and Fleetwood Mac. The merger will combine diverse record labels such as Virgin, Atlantic, WEA, and HMV.

Warner Music chairman Roger Ames, who assumed the Warner helm just last year, will be CEO, and Time Warner president Richard Parsons and EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli will be co-chairmen. EMI has long been a strong presence in the European market, but both it and Warner Music have experienced a decline in their share of the US market in recent years. Executives from both sides see the joint venture as a probable path to revival. One big advantage of the deal, according to AOL, will be the accelerated development of Internet music features.