EMI Denies 1,000 More Job Cuts

EMI won’t comment on speculation that senior A&R exec Ferdy Unger-Hamilton has quit the company’s London office, but the company is insisting there’s no truth in a May 13 Daily Telegraph story saying Guy Hands intends to axe a further 1,000 jobs before the end of the year.

"I have no idea where the paper got those numbers," company spokeswoman Amanda Conroy told Pollstar, denying that there had been any increase from the 1,500 to 2,000 layoffs EMI announced in January.

But she wouldn’t comment on rumours that Unger-Hamilton has quit, which was also reported in the Telegraph, or say whether Mark Collen, who oversees the Angel label, and former EMI Records managing director Terry Felgate have also left the company.

It’s not clear how long EMI will continue to duck questions on whether three key personal have left, although it’s hard to see how it can go on beyond the very short term.

Unger-Hamilton’s exit would be a shock in itself, particularly as he was promoted to president of A&R for the Virgin labels just a little more than a month ago.

The recorded industry rumour mill is saying all three quit because Hands is decimating the company in ways that no longer make sense to the executives with music business backgrounds.

In January Tony Wadsworth, known as the "artists’ ally," stepped down, a move that had Coldplay manager David Holmes, Robbie Williams co-manager Tim Clark and The Verve’s manager Jazz Summers all openly questioning where Hands is taking the business.

All three managers voiced concerns in various U.K. papers as Hands unveiled the job-cutting plan that would save the company £200 million a year.

"While Mr Hands’ no-nonsense, eye-on-the-bottom-line approach worked in aircraft leasing, pubs and waste treatment, it may find its nemesis in the music industry," was a Financial Times business analyst’s response at the time.

But the paper also pointed out that Hands had taken over a company where middle managers outnumber talent scouts by 19 to 1, 30 percent of the artists have never produced an album, and £25 million per year is spent on scrapping unsold CDs.

Even after the job losses announced in January, EMI will have more employees generating less revenue than its competitors at Warner Music and Universal.

Conroy says the reorganization is on course to be completed by the end of June, which will leave EMI with about 2,700 employees.

In August 2007, when Hands and Terra Firma bought the company for £3.2 billion (including debt), it employed 4,500.

The Telegraph reported that "according to sources," Hands had recently told senior EMI directors that the headcount at the recorded music division needs to be cut "to around 2,000 people from 4,500 – up to 1,000 more job losses than the company has already announced.