Richard Branson Expresses Interest in Buying Back Virgin Records

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LONDON - Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has expressed his interest in a potential bid for the Virgin Records label he founded.

Vivendi's Universal Music Group is meeting with European regulators in Brussels this week to discuss possible concessions to win approval for its proposed $1.9 billion bid for EMI's recorded music business. As reported, a sale of some labels, including Virgin Records, could be among the concessions.

"Richard Branson and Virgin have been assessing how to get back into the recorded music business for many years," a Branson spokesman told THR. "The potential disposal of Virgin Records by Universal Music offers a wonderful opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label in the market."

The Financial Times had first reported that Branson has made a general expression of interest, but talks are at a preliminary stage. If the British serial entrepreneur does indeed make a bid for the music label, Branson would do so with French music executive Patrick Zelnik who owns independent label Naive Records in Paris, the paper said. Zelnik is also the co-president of Impala, the trade group representing independent music labels.

If and what UMG may offer for sale is far from clear at this stage as Virgin in the U.S. is part of EMI's Capitol Records.

A spokesman for UMG declined to comment.

Branson sold Virgin Records to EMI in 1992. He continued to own the Virgin Megastores music retail chain until 2007. He has since focused on his various other ventures that also all carry the Virgin brand name.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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