Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has announced that it has entered into a ‘definitive agreement’ to sell the Parlophone Label Group, which includes EMI Classics and Virgin Classics, for the cash sum of £487million to Warner Music Group. Following the acquisition by Universal of the EMI Group last December, after European Commission approval, Universal had to divest itself of a certain amount of its new assets. The transaction is likely to occur later this year.
While the focus – in both Universal’s press releases and in media coverage of the deal – has been on Parlophone’s substantial pop and rock catalogues, the deal will see ownership of two of the world’s leading classical label pass to Warner. ‘Following this transaction, we will continue with our global reinvestment program that is rebuilding EMI and ensuring that the company is able to reach its full potential,’ Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group is quoted as saying. ‘And we’re satisfied that our agreement with Warner Music will provide a home for PLG artists.’
Warner’s history with classical music dates back to the late 1980s when Warner Classics was formed around the French label Erato and the German label Teldec (formerly Telefunken). And its success in the field was rewarded very soon when Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s set of the Beethoven symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was named Gramophone’s Recording of the Year in 1992.