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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 November, 2003, 17:13 GMT
EMI 'may become takeover target'
Kylie Minogue - an EMI artist
EMI is home to Kylie Minogue
Music giant EMI could find itself vulnerable to a takeover move if it fails in its bid for the music arm of Time Warner, reports suggest.

US private equity firm Blackstone Group could make a 1.5bn offer for the London-based company, The Observer said.

But further reports say EMI may seek merger talks with its Time Warner bid rival - a private consortium led by former Seagram boss Edgar Bronfman.

EMI, home to Kylie and Coldplay, refused to comment on the claims.

On Friday it emerged that Time Warner, the world's biggest media-entertainment company, had chosen Mr Bronfman's consortium as the preferred bidder for its music unit.

The company has set a deadline of today (Sunday) to sell off the Warner Music division, whose artist roster includes Madonna, Led Zeppelin and REM.


The private consortium, which also includes Haim Saban, was initially thought an unlikely competitor to EMI, which is offering $1.6bn for a smaller part of the Warner music empire.

But, Mr Bronfman was given until the end of the weekend to finalise a higher bid thought to be in the region of $2.5bn (1.47bn).

There is speculation that Time Warner is edging closer to a deal with the Bronfman-Saban consortium - attracted by the prospect of a cash windfall and a simpler divestment of its music business.

Music market shares
However, EMI may yet come forward with a more generous bid.

But, if it does succeed, the an EMI-Time Warner tie-up is bound to face regulatory hurdles in the EU and US as it represents a massive consolidation of the music industry.

Yet if the deal falls through, EMI chairman Eric Nicoli remains confident that the group can still prosper.

Last week, the group reported operating profits in the six months to the end of September had risen 0.9% to 79m.

EMI added the increase had come despite a decline in the global music industry of 10% - caused by falling sales, rising competition and rampant piracy.

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