Report: IMPALA's Patrick Zelnik Offered Virgin Post Should Richard Branson Buy Back Label
Zelnik Claim Comes One Day After His About-Face Approval Of UMG/EMI Deal
July 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM (PT)
Indie label trade group IMPALA Co-President PATRICK ZELNIK surprised many in the industry -- especially those who are against the UMG/EMI acquisition, such as IMPALA itself -- when he penned an op-ed in the FINANCIAL TIMES that "A UNIVERSAL/EMI merger could rescue the music business" (NET NEWS 7/17).
In another sudden turn of events, MUSICWEEK now reports that ZELNIK later told the FINANCIAL TIMES that SIR RICHARD BRANSON, who is interested in buying VIRGIN RECORDS from UMG (which UMG reportedly promised to sell should the UMG/EMI deal be approved) (NET NEWS, 7/17 and story below), has asked him to run VIRGIN RECORDS if he does re-acquire his old label.
"If UNIVERSAL is ready to sell VIRGIN RECORDS, then RICHARD BRANSON will support a transaction and support me in doing it," he told FT. "He wants VIRGIN to be in my hands."
ZELNIK and BRANSON have worked together before. In 1980, the two created the first European branch of VIRGIN RECORDS -- VIRGIN FRANCE. He later became President of VIRGIN’s retail branch in 1988. Besides his post at IMPALA, ZELNIK also owns French indie label NAIVE.
To be sure, nothing here is a done deal. The EUROPEAN COMMISSION has until SEPT. 6th to decide whether UMG's divestiture of VIRGIN and EMI's Classical and Jazz labels is enough for it to approve the conglomerate merger. What's more, sources indicate that BRANSON has not committed to fully owning VIRGIN RECORDS, possibly taking just "a small stake in such a deal."