EMI Finally Agrees To Takeover; Terra Firma Plans Online Acceleration

Private equity group Terra Firma’s £2.4 billion ($4.8 billion) offer for London-based EMI (LON:EMI) will finally go ahead after the required number of shareholders voted in favor of the deal. After flirtation from Warner Music Group (WMG), EMI accepted the 265p-per-share ($5.17) offer in May, when it also posted an annual net loss of £288.5 million ($584 million). Only a small number of shareholders had accepted the offer while EMI awaited a counter-bid from WMG, forcing Terra Firma to push back the acceptance deadline repeatedly. But Warner finally ruled itself out last month, and today shareholder acceptances scraped through the 90 percent threshold by 0.27 percent. Release.

Terra Firma in May said it wants to “build on EMI’s current position as one of the world’s leading music companies and accelerate the development of its digital and online strategy”. But so far this year EMI has already staked itself out as one of the most innovative of labels in the digital space, becoming the first of the majors to drop DRM protection with a new high-quality repertoire of track downloads. EMI has underperformed rival labels, however. The deal is a “whew” moment for EMI: Citibank, backing Terra Firma, had reportedly swayed on whether to yet another extension to the latest deadline. EMI shares (LON:EMI) went up this afternoon. Now attention turns to whether the new owner will dispose of EMI’s music publishing unit (one of the options mentioned earlier) to improve the label’s profitability — and to the new owner’s take on current management.