/// Warner Music Group Gets a New Boss
Warner Music Group, which has new ownership, now has new management, too. Stephen Cooper, a board member at Access Industries, the investment group that bought Warner this summer, is now chief executive officer. He replaces Edgar Bronfman Jr., who has run Warner Music Group since 2004, but will remain with the company as chairman of its board. The company announced that it is bringing Thomas Lee back to the company’s board. Lee had previously served as a board member from 2004 through this year, when his private equity company held a large stake in the music label. His reappointment does not mean he’ll be reinvesting in the company, I’m told. People inside the company hold out the possibility that Bronfman could return to day-to-day leadership of the company if it succeeds in buying EMI Music, a longtime would-be merger partner currently owned by Citigroup. But even if Warner wins that bidding round, regulatory approval could take a year or more, so it’s not realistic to expect him back sooner than that, if ever. Here’s Bronfman’s internal note to his employees, followed by the press release announcing the moves. Dear Colleagues: As Warner Music Group begins its next chapter, well-positioned for some truly exciting and unprecedented opportunities, I am pleased to announce we are adding a new member to our management team: Steve Cooper. Effective today, Steve will be serving as WMG’s Chief Executive Officer, working out of our New York office and I will serve as Chairman of the Board of WMG, continuing to work out of both our New York and London offices. Lyor and Cameron will remain in their positions, heading up Recorded Music and Music Publishing respectively, reporting directly to Steve. I’d like to take a moment to explain to you the rationale behind this change: Capitalizing on the opportunities before us will require an intensive and all-consuming effort from a broad and deep management team. For this reason, following the close of the sale and the transition of WMG from a public company to a subsidiary of Access Industries, in several discussions with Len and the Access team, I conveyed my strong conviction that my energies on behalf of the company would best be directed toward transformative transactions and long-term strategy. Len was supportive of my wishes provided we could identify the executive to whom I could hand off day-to-day management responsibilities. Fortunately, in Steve Cooper we have that executive. Steve has a long and distinguished career of service to many companies. Having worked very closely with him over the past several months, I can tell you that he is a highly effective operator who brings a wide range of skills and experience to WMG, most recently, of course, as WMG’s Chairman.
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Warner Music Group Gets a New Boss