Sir Richard Branson In Hunt For Virgin Records Again?

17 July 2012 | 3:52 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

The return of a pioneer?

Sir Richard Branson could buy back Virgin Records if the Universal Music Group decide to sell the label as a trade-off of regulator approval for their acquisition of EMI Music.

It was suggested yesterday that Virgin could be sold off by its new owner Universal, who are close to gaining clearance from both the European Commission and American Senate Hearings regarding their $1.9 billion takeover of EMI. Originally Universal were rumoured to be conceding the Parlophone label to get the deal over the line, but Virgin has also emerged as a candidate.

Today multiple sources are reporting that Virgin's co-founder Branson, who made his fortune off the label and is now one of the world's most enigmatic multi-billionaires, could be in the hunt for the label. He is reported to have held talks with Patrick Zelnik, owner of French independent label Naive Records, according to people familiar with the discussions. Any move for Virgin would likely be in partnership with Zelnik.

The Wall Street Journal notes that discussions are very preliminary at this stage and questions which part of Virgin, which was folded into Capitol Records after Branson sold it for £510m million in 1992, is exactly up for sale.

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If the deal does happen, it would herald the return of one of the industry's most renowned pioneers. Branson hasn't had any involvement in music, directly, for many years.