EMI boss quits ahead of key refinancing

David Hellier
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THE financially troubled EMI music label yesterday revealed that its chief executive Elio Leoni-Sceti is leaving after only 18 months in the post.

Leoni-Sceti leaves with no job to go to. Having joined from Reckitt-Benckiser, he is said to have become disconsolate by the legal action between Citigroup, which funded EMI’s £4bn takeover by Terra Firma, and the private equity house, as well as the financial problems at the group.

In a letter to Terra Firma boss Guy Hands as part of court documents filed on 4 February in New York, Leoni-Sceti wrote that morale at the firm had reached a low and artists were questioning whether to stay.

EMI is in talks with artists, “all of whom are questioning to some degree whether it is wise to continue a relationship with EMI,” he wrote.

Leoni-Sceti will effectively be replaced by the former ITV boss Charles Allen who steps up from being non-executive chairman of EMI Music to executive chairman.

“It’s been a tough 18 months for him,” said a colleague yesterday. “First he had to get rid of people and then there was the distraction of the court case. I think he won’t be unhappy to go”.

Allen was suitably grateful to his former frontman. “Elio has done a great job. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him; he is a very talented executive and we all wish him well in the future. Our goals for EMI Music remain the same. I will support and guide the group’s strong team, keep EMI’s focus on creativity and superb A&R, and deliver a digital platform.”

Allen now has only a few weeks to put together a business plan for EMI that must persuade Terrra Firma’s investors to inject another £120m in order to keep the label afloat.

“I suspect Leoni-Sceti did not want to put his name to what will be a very challenging task,” said Claire Enders of Enders Analysis.