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Published: 8/1/2007

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EMI sings thanks to £2.4bn Terra Firma deal

August 1, 2007
EMI sings thanks to £2.4bn Terra Firma deal
Guy Hands wins tussle with Warner Music – and his financial backer Citigroup – to bag the Beatles' record label
 
By Rhys Blakely

Terra Firma, Guy Hands’ buyout group, today won control of EMI, after clinching 90 per cent of the embattled music company's shares.

The private equity firm announced the agreed £2.4 billion takeover for the Beatles' record label in May. However, fears had escalated in recent days that the turmoil in the global credit markets risked derailing the sale of the third-largest music group, whose artists also include Kylie Minogue, Norah Jones and Coldplay.

It is understood that the 90 per cent shareholder approval had been demanded by Citigroup, Terra Firma's financial backer, for the banking giant to commit more than £2 billion in funding to the deal.

Over the weekend, Terra Firma was granted a final extension by the Takeover Panel for its 265p-a-share bid, as speculation mounted that the EMI takeover could become the latest victim of the fallout from the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

At the same time, it emerged that Citigroup would not agree to a waiver if Terra Firma came close by securing even as much as 80 per cent shareholder approval.

That inflexibility was unusual, industry watchers said, and indicated just how jittery finance houses have become faced with the prospect of syndicating debt to other banks in such a volatile market.

This afternoon, after the 1pm deadline, Terra Firma said in a statement that it had received valid acceptances of 90.27 per cent of EMI shares.

“The offer for EMI has been declared unconditional as to acceptances and will remain open,” it added in a statement.

The private equity group’s bid values EMI at £3.2 billion including debt and follows a lengthy takeover tussle with Warner Music, the US music group.

The deal's progress will come as a huge relief to Eric Nicoli, EMI's embattled chairman, who has been at the helm for seven failed merger and takeover attempts since 2000, when the group announced a £5.5 billion merger plan with Warner Music.

Since then EMI's fortunes have declined. The group has fallen behind its peers and failed to come to grips with the explosion of digital music. This year it has sought to claw back ground by selling music on Apple's iTunes site without anti-piracy technology.