EMI, Britain’s last major record label, has been bought by Russian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik for an estimated $1.5bn. For that money, Blavatnik will get the company’s recorded music division, while its publishing arm is likely to go to Bertelsmann and US private equity company KKR.
The home of bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Coldplay, EMI has been on the market since its new owner Citigroup took control back in 2007. Universal was said to be interested, but Len Blavatnik won out and is now expected to merge the group with Warner Records, which he bought earlier this year.
Combined, EMI and Warner Records should form a third major global record label to take on the top two, Universal and Sony. The EMI name is likely to be phased out in America but will remain in Europe. Some critics argue that it’s sad for another British brand to be bought by non-British investors, but others warn against being too sentimental.