Universal hires exec as rivals vie for assets

UNIVERSAL MUSIC has appointed a new boss for its international divisions ahead of a sale of high-profile assets.

The company – owned by French media giant Vivendi – yesterday promoted veteran Max Hole to be chief executive of Universal Music International. Hole, who was instrumental in Universal’s recent acquisition of the EMI label, will be in charge of the company’s presence outside of the US, effectively making him number two at Universal under chief executive Lucian Grainge.

His appointment comes as bidding for some of EMI’s assets – which Universal has been ordered to sell off following its £1.2bn acquisition – hots up, with Sony Music and Bertelsmann’s BMG teaming up for a bid.

The two parties are bidding together with a roughly equal investment, but will break up the assets. BMG, whose core business is in music rights management, could take rights to legacy artists such as Pink Floyd and Genesis, with Sony owning rights to more current artists, should a deal go through. Discussions are expected to be completed within weeks, in stark contrast to the months it took for Universal’s EMI purchase to complete.

There are several parties bidding for EMI assets, sources close to the deal said, with a bidding war for some of the most valuable property set to erupt. The most in-demand of the labels EMI is selling is Parlophone, home to Kylie Minogue and Coldplay.