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IMPALA boss: Richard Branson wants ME to run Virgin Records

Tim Ingham
IMPALA boss: Richard Branson wants ME to run Virgin Records

Well this just keeps getting more interesting, doesn't it?

IMPALA co-president Patrick Zelnik, who last night shocked the indie sector by publicly supporting Universal's £1.2bn bid for EMI Music, has now claimed that Sir Richard Branson has handpicked him to run Virgin Records - which just happens to be a possible divestment of the acquisition.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Zelnik said that he had held talks with Branson over a potential swoop for Virgin, which is currently owned by EMI.

Zelnik, who also owns French indie Naive, commented: "If Universal is ready to sell Virgin Records, then Richard Branson will support a transaction and support me in doing it. He wants Virgin to be in my hands."

Zelnik plans to merge Naive and Virgin if his wish to own the label - which may or may not be financially backed by Branson - is successful.

According to the FT, people familiar with the discussions have warned that Branson had not committed to a Virgin Records bid, and 'may only take a small stake in such a deal'.

Zelnik started his career in music industry at Polydor (1973-1980) as international marketing director.

In 1977, he met Richard Branson with whom he created the first European branch of Virgin Records in 1980 - Virgin France. He later became President of Virgin’s retail branch in 1988.

Using language that could be interpreted as "this will all be fine so long as I get to sit in Virgin's hotseat", Zelnik said in his op/ed last night: "Universal should make targeted, surgical divestitures to independents instead of to hedge funds, private equity or pension funds.

"Independents reinvest their profits better in signing new artists and developing new genres, and are instrumental in musical and technological innovation that is the lifeblood of music."

Source: Financial Times

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Tags: virgin records, universal, richard branson, emi, UMG/EMI Merger, impala, virgin

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