EMI's Bandier eyes WMG job


EMI Music Publishing chairman and co-CEO Martin Bandier, who is on an 18-month timetable to exit the company he has brought to pre-eminence, has been in discussions with Warner Music Group chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. about a potential role at WMG, sources confirm.

However, one source cautioned that Bandier's exit from EMI, where he is under contract until early 2008, may not be imminent, as one report published Thursday suggested.

It is believed that Bandier has been approached by Bronfman to head Warner/Chappell Music, WMG's publishing division, which runs second to EMI's publishing division in market share.

"Marty's a player and wildly supportive of the creative staff," one source said. "He made EMI the biggest and the best. Why not return Warner/Chappell to its former glory?"

Bandier would supplant current Warner/Chappell chairman and CEO Richard Blackstone, the former head of Zomba Music Publishing who was installed last year, replacing 18-year publishing chief Les Bider (HR 4/12/05). This year, Bider's heir apparent, Warner/Chappell president Rick Shoemaker, who headed the company for 11 years, departed the firm (HR 2/24).

Bandier -- a top executive at EMI's publishing company since the 1989 purchase by EMI of SBK Entertainment World, his publishing partnership with Stephen Swid and Charles Koppelman -- is under contract until March 2008. Under a succession plan put into place last year, EMI chief financial officer Roger Faxon stepped in as president and chief operating officer of EMI Music Publishing in February 2005; he became co-CEO in April.

One source suggests that other possible scenarios involving Bandier's future activities include purchases of either Warner/Chappell or EMI Music Publishing.

Competing takeover bids between WMG and EMI Music were dropped in July after a European court struck down the Sony BMG Music Entertainment merger (HR 7/14, 7/28).

An EMI spokeswoman and a spokesman for Bandier declined comment, though both noted that Bandier remains under contract to EMI. A WMG spokesman declined comment.

A move by Bandier to Warner/Chappell would be a seismic event in a busy season of publishing news. In early September, Vivendi's Universal Music Group agreed to buy Bertelsmann's BMG Music Publishing unit for $2.1 billion (HR 9/7). That deal, which must be approved by European regulators, would create a company comprising about 25% of the market. European independent trade group Impala has said it will oppose the acquisition in court.