EMI puts Abbey Road Studios up for sale

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Ailing music company EMI Group PLC is speaking with potential buyers for Abbey Road Studios, the holy place in London where the Beatles recorded most of their recordings, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Abbey Road, the London recording studio made famous by The Beatles, could make millions. EMI’s debts could play a role in the sale, which the company has yet to confirm or deny. Video courtesy of Sky News.

The talks are the latest sign of distress from the world’s No.4 music company, which has collapsed since its acquisition in a 2007 leveraged buyout by private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd.

Terra Firma is trying to avoid default on a £ 950million ($ 1.49 billion) loan backed by EMI Music, the company’s ailing recorded music business. He must raise more than £ 100million from Terra Firma investors to avoid default on Citigroup C -0.15%

to lend.

The Beatles, left to right, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison performed “All You Need Is Love” at Abbey Road Studios for the live television broadcast of “Our World” in 1967.

Photo by DAVID MAGNUS / Rex Features, Courtesy Everett Collection

A sale of Abbey Road – which EMI says is worth tens of millions of pounds – would have no impact on that effort, a person familiar with the matter said. The deal is too small to make a difference, and probably wouldn’t be completed in time to boost Terra Firma’s latest fundraising effort anyway.

News of the potential sale was first reported by the Financial Times. An EMI spokeswoman reached early Tuesday made no comment.

But the sale of the studio would be interpreted as the latest sign of a sellout mentality at EMI. The studio was the home ground for EMI’s most prominent act, The Beatles, who also used a crosswalk in front of the site for their famous “Abbey Road” album art, turning the studio into a tourist attraction that attracts a constant flow of visitors every day. . Dozens of other major bands, from Pink Floyd to Radiohead, have used the studio over the years.

The need for high-end recording studios has diminished dramatically in recent years as artists and producers have flocked to digital recording facilitated by computers. EMI believes that much of Abbey Road’s value lies in the studio’s “brand”, which it appears to be trying to leverage more vigorously. Abbey Road was the site of a recent television series featuring live performances by prominent actors. And the studio’s website says an online store will be launching soon.

Meanwhile, Terra Firma’s issues with EMI continue. In December, he sued Citigroup – which owes more than £ 3 billion – over the bank’s handling of the buyout deal. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in New York, but the two sides are now debating whether the case should go to trial there or in London.

Court documents released last week indicated that just three months ago Terra Firma boss Guy Hands proposed a radical restructuring of the company that would have separated its volatile recorded music branch from its business. stable music publishing.

Write to Bruce Orwall at [email protected]

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