Warner Looking To Poach Exec In Search For New CEO

30 May 2012 | 3:36 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

But the winning applicant will probably be dealt a pay cut.

Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik has put the feelers out for a new CEO, it has been reported, for when the current executive Stephen Cooper makes his eventual exit.

Russian tycoon Blavatnik bought Warner last year, but then lost out on the EMI bidding, despite being favourites for a lot of the process. Warner's then-Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman Jr had stepped down from the CEO role when the $3.3 billion Warner sale went through and then resigned from the Chairman role as well after the sale.

In his memo to staff at the time he said, "I wanted to let you know that, as my other obligations are beginning to take an inordinate amount of time, I have asked to step down as WMG's Board Chairman."

Stephen Cooper is the major label's current CEO, but according to the NY Post is not believed to be in for the long haul with the company, despite his positive work so far. A known 'turnaround specialist' his focus has been on cutting down costs.

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A source told the paper that Blavatnik has quietly put the word out that the company is searching for a new CEO.

“They are looking for a creative who is a decent entertainment operator,” they said. It is believed that Blavatnik is searching for someone with music experience.

 According to the paper, Cooper will likely return to the Chairman role in the next management shuffle, the position he swapped Bronfman Jr for last year. The recorded music division head Lyor Cohen may make a straight exit though, with the paper's sources claiming that he has not been offered a new contract yet.

“It was important for the new owners to get a sense of the business and the senior leadership team before any renegotiations,” said the source.

One key aspect of Blavatnik's purchase, through his investment company Access Industries, is the fact that Warner is now a private company. As a result, it is believed that an incoming CEO's pay packet will be tied to performance, rather than share price.

Meanwhile, Blavatnik is believed to want out, or at least distance himself from the day-to-day workings, of the BP's messy Russian merger.