Nicoli era is over at EMI

2 Terra Firma execs join board

London — Terra Firma, the new owner of EMI Group, ousted CEO Eric Nicoli on Wednesday and shook up the music company's board.

Nicoli has agreed to "step down" ahead of the music major's expected Sept. 18 delisting from the London Stock Exchange.

The European equity firm also said Wednesday that managing directors Chris Roling and Ashley Unwin have been added to EMI's board. Roling becomes COO of EMI Group and CFO of EMI Group and its recorded music division EMI Music. Unwin has been ap-pointed director of business transformation for EMI Group and EMI Music.

Terra Firma also said that EMI Group and EMI Music CFO Martin Stewart will follow Nicoli, having resigned as an EMI director. EMI Music Publishing chairman and CEO Roger Faxon will continue to serve in his roles and on the company board.

Terra Firma also has instigated a new governance structure, which will see the EMI board reporting into a new supervisory board chaired by the equity house's CEO Guy Hands. Fellow supervisory board member Julie Williamson, a Terra Firma managing director, will focus on EMI's strategic business relationships.

Hands praised the outgoing executives Wednesday.

"I would like to thank Eric Nicoli and Martin Stewart for their service to the group," he said. "Eric has steered EMI through a period when the industry has faced extreme change, and we thank him for providing a smooth transition into our ownership."

Nicoli had been CEO of EMI Group and EMI Music. Before joining EMI Group in 1999 as executive chairman, Nicoli served at United Biscuits for 19 years, rising to group CEO.

In an internal letter issued to EMI's artists, writers and staff, EMI's outgoing chief Eric Nicoli assured employees that the business is in safe hands with Terra Firma.

"The new board is a strong and experienced one with a track record in transforming businesses for future growth," he wrote. "They are committed to investing in the business to ensure that it grows both organically and by acquisition. I am absolutely confident that EMI is about to enter an exciting new era of investment and growth."

Stewart was recruited to EMI in January 2005 after a stint as CFO with British Sky Broadcasting Group.

Until Wednesday, Hands had not publicly commented on Terra Firma's plans for EMI since the firm made its initial May 21 bid for the company at £2.65 ($5.35) per share, valuing the music giant at £2.4 billion ($4.7 billion).

Hands reiterated that EMI's new owners have ambitions to grow the company both organically and by acquisition.

"The goal is for EMI to be the world's most innovative and consumer-focused music company and the best home for musical talent," he said. "EMI is privileged to have an extraordinarily gifted base of artists, songwriters and staff, and we will work with them to achieve objectives that serve consumers worldwide."

Lars Brandle is global news editor at Billboard.