EMI closing doors in Southeast Asia

Hands over distribution, marketing to WMG

EMI Music is shuttering its operations in a string of Southeast Asian markets, handing its distribution and marketing over to Warner Music Group.

The move, which was announced Monday and is effective immediately, followed several weeks of industry speculation that EMI might be scaling down its operations in Asia. Described in a statement from EMI as a "multiyear license agreement," it will see WMG market and distribute EMI's worldwide repertoire in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.

In Indonesia alone, Warner will handle marketing and distribution while a dedicated EMI office will continue to deal with A&R tasks for domestic repertoire -- including new signings. EMI declined comment on whether new local signings would be made in the other territories, but Billboard understands it is unlikely.

WMG will exclusively handle exclusive all physical and digital distribution of EMI Music releases.

"EMI's artists will now be able to fully leverage our Southeast Asian operations, specifically our marketing teams and vast distribution network of traditional retail, wireless and online partners, through which we've seen great success in recent years," said Lachie Rutherford, Warner Music Asia Pacific's president.

EMI says it still plans "to develop global digital partnerships" in the territories covered by this deal. According to EMI's London-based president of Asia Pacific/Latin America Adrian Cheesley: "In Southeast Asia, EMI will retain a small regional team in Hong Kong to oversee the local marketing and distribution of our artists' music, working closely with Lachie and his team."

It is as yet unclear how many job losses are involved; however, it is understood that EMI is currently in consultation with all its employees in the affected markets. An EMI spokesperson would not disclose the staff numbers involved.

The two majors already have a partnership in place covering India, the Middle East and North Africa, where EMI has marketed and distributed WMG physical products since 2005. The new agreement is expected to have no impact on other Asia/Pacific markets -- India.