Sony Plans To Cut 60% Of EMI Publishing Staff

18 April 2012 | 4:10 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

A ruling on the legality of the EMI sale is expected by Thursday, too.

Sony will look to cut 60 percent of EMI Publishing's staff in the next two years after their purchase of the major label's publishing arm for $2.2 billion.

The result of a drawn-out bidding war for the embattled label, EMI was eventually split and sold to a Sony-led consortium, and the Universal Music Group, who picked up the record label functions for $1.9 billion. Almost immediately, the other major label Warner, who lost the bid, and independent label groups opposed the deal on the grounds that Sony and Universal would dominate the industry.

The European Commission is expected to issue a ruling on the sale, brokered by Citibank who took control of EMI following Guy Hands' troubled tenure, this Thursday.

In particular Sony have been near-silent on the new deal, but a confidential report prepared for investors and obtained by The New York Times indicates that Sony plan to lay off about 60 percent of EMI's publishing staff.

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Of the current 515 staff, 326 would be retrenched, with 152 laid off in the first year and 174 "used on a temporary, transitional basis", according to the report.

The lay-offs are to be part of a planned saving of $70 million for EMI's operations. Sony are expected to keep the EMI name on the company.

The report also states that the combined publishing assets of Sony and EMI would give it a 31 percent share of the business. According to their figures they believe that this would make them an outright leader in the industry.

A Sony spokesperson commented only that, “Discussing details of any integration plan is premature while the regulatory approval processes are ongoing."

Meanwhile Helen Smith, the executive director of independent label group Impala, again opposed the sale this week, stating, "We believe these deals would give Sony and Universal excessive control over the markets for publishing and recordings, over collecting societies, how artists are signed, and how their careers are able to develop."

However today two labour unions - SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and the American Federation of Musicians - supported the sale.

In separate letters to the US Federal Trade Commission both argued that the sale was needed to secure jobs, the legacy of the artists housed on EMI and to generally stop the label floating into "oblivion".

As previously reported in Your Daily SPA, in recent months the American business press have reported that Universal have given EMI informal assurances that the deal will go through. Both buyers have even taken steps to sell off some publishing assets to help the deal go through.