Sir Richard Branson has accused EMI of "mismanaging" Virgin Records over the past decade - as he reaffirms his desire to once again take control of the label.
Branson sold Virgin Records to Thorn EMI in 1992 for a reported US$1 billion (£560 million).
In the UK, the business was eventually folded into EMI around a decade ago - after a post-acquisition period where it operated successfully as a separate entity. In 2007 it was merged with Capitol in the US.
Branson now has the opportunity to buy back Virgin Records, as Universal's Lucian Grainge looks to divest assets in order to ensure his company's propsed £1.2bn purchase of EMI is cleared by the EC.
“I have known Lucian for 30 years, he is a great record man and has committed to revitalise Virgin Records which has been mismanaged in the last 10 years,” Branson told today's FT. “He and I feel it is now a ‘sleeping beauty’ which could become again an innovative and leading label.”
Branson went on to establish the V2 label in 1996, which was later bought by Universal in 2007.
Yesterday, Branson directly confirmed his interest in acquiring Virgin from EMI, Tweeting: "Looking into buying back Virgin Records - great opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label."
Patrick Zelnik, co-president of IMPALA, revealed his surprise support for the Universal/EMI purchase this week - so long as the deal abided by certain concessions, including the sale of Virgin Records to the independent sector.
The exec later suggested that Branson would join a bid for the label from Zelnik's Naive label in France - and that the Virgin founder even wanted the Frenchman to run the new independent label.