Sony BMG Aftermath

Following the June 1st announcement that Sony Music Group U.S. CEO Don Ienner and COO Michele Anthony resigned, Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG are reportedly discussing a possible change in the structure of their joint venture, Sony BMG Music Entertainment .

The two companies are said to be discussing the possibility of Sony buying all or part of Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in Sony BMG, according to The Wall Street Journal. That stake could be valued at as much as $2.5 billion. But sources close to the situation told the paper such a deal is far from certain.

And, so far at least, Bertelsmann is denying a deal is in the works. Spokesman Andreas Grafemeyer reportedly said in a statement that the company “has no intention to sell its 50 percent stake in Sony BMG.”

Senior management at Sony is said to be frustrated by what it sees as the slow pace of releases by two of its labels, Columbia Records and Epic Records. The labels’ share of new U.S. albums has fallen almost three percentage points during the past year to 10.4 percent, according to the WSJ.

Insiders told the newspaper they hoped that by bringing in new blood, they could foster a more cooperative and efficient company.

Rob Stringer, the younger brother of Sony Corp. Chairman Howard Stringer, was named president of Sony BMG’s U.S. label group. He officially takes the post September 1st.

Until then, the label group’s responsibilities fall to Tim Bowen, Sony BMG’s COO.

The exits of Ienner and Anthony are the latest episode in a senior management shuffle at Sony BMG that began in February with Sony BMG CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz taking over for Andrew Lack, who stepped into Schmidt-Holtz’s former post as chairman of the board.

Within months, Bertelsmann disclosed that it needed to raise $5.77 billion to buy out an outside investor, the WSJ reported.

And despite denials that Bertelsmann’s stake in Sony BMG may be on the block, an agreement could come within a few weeks, insiders told the paper. But discussions remain fluid and could fall apart, they added.