EMI hits the high notes under new owner

LONDON (Reuters) - Revenues at music group EMI rose 61 percent and earnings from the troubled recorded music division also shot up in the first quarter, due to cost cuts and strong releases under its new private equity owners.

According to a letter to staff from Terra Firma Chief Executive Guy Hands which was seen by Reuters, the recorded music business achieved first quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of 59.2 million pounds.

That compared to a loss of 45.1 million pounds in the same period of 2007.

“These are early days,” Hands said. “And it can be misleading to look at just one quarter in isolation due to the timings of releases.

“As we all know, the recorded music business is extremely volatile and we cannot count on future quarters always being this good. Nevertheless I believe these numbers are a demonstration of EMI Music’s significant progress and all your enormous efforts to transform this business.”

The figures only included a small contribution from Coldplay’s new popular album Viva La Vida because it was released towards the end of the quarter.

Terra Firma bought EMI in 2007 for 2.4 billion pounds plus debt and announced plans shortly afterwards to cut up to a third of its workforce. The music industry has been hit by piracy and the growth of digital in recent years and analysts are watching to see the impact of the changes at EMI.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by David Cowell