EMI seeks buyer for Abbey Road Studios

LONDON — Cash-strapped music company EMI Group Ltd. is looking for a buyer for Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded some of their most famous songs.

A person familiar with the situation said yesterday that the talks had been going on for several months but that no buyer had yet been found. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. A spokesperson for EMI declined to comment on the sale offer, which could net the label tens of millions of dollars.

EMI, whose artists include Coldplay, Lily Allen and Robbie Williams, has struggled financially since its 2007 takeover for $4.9 billion by private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners. Several big names, including Radiohead and the Rolling Stones, left the label amid the cuts and restructuring that followed the takeover of Terra Firma.

An audited report released last week revealed that Terra Firma needed a huge injection of cash by June to avoid defaulting on its loans. Citigroup Inc. and may require upwards of $165 million to last all that year. If the funds cannot be raised and the loan is in default, Citigroup could seize EMI and cause it to be sold or dissolved.

Abbey Road is one of the company’s most prominent assets, both as a recording studio and a tourist attraction for Beatles fans. EMI bought the Georgian townhouse in London’s residential St. John’s Wood in 1929 and turned it into one of the most sophisticated recording studios in the world.

Since the 1960s, it has been one of the most famous rock music studios in the world. Albums recorded there include Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, Wings’ “Band on the Run” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer”.

It is most closely associated with the Beatles, who recorded most of their albums there. The pedestrian crossing outside the North London studio was immortalized on the cover of the band’s final studio album, ‘Abbey Road’ in 1969.

Potential buyers, beware: the famous black and white crossing is not included in the offer.

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.

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