EMI to name chief

EMI, the record label of Robbie Williams and the Spice Girls, is expected to announce this week the appointment of a new chief executive to run the company after Sir Colin Southgate steps down as chairman this year.

Michael Fuchs, chairman for 20 years of the US pay television channel HBO, has been cited as the leading candidate. However, sources close to the music group say it is more likely that the job will go to a hard-hitting financial whiz, possibly from outside the industry.

Alain Levy, formerly the head of PolyGram's music division, who quit after the firm was bought by the Canadian drink distillers Seagram, has also been cited as a frontrunner.

Ken Berry, the head of EMI's recorded music division, who is credited with discovering the Spice Girls, has also been a leading candidate. But industry sources believe that EMI is more concerned with finding a replacement who has keen financial acumen to complement Berry's creative talents.

The post of chief executive at EMI was left open by Jim Fifield, who quit last April with a controversial payoff of pounds 12.5m. The plan is to enable Sir Colin to go non-executive.

The City would approve. Sir Colin was voted the most disappointing company chief in a recent poll of Britain's top 100 fund managers.

EMI shares have been climbing steadily over the past few months, closing at pounds 4.48 on Friday from a low of pounds 3.12 in October. The rise has been fuelled by speculation about a takeover.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has expressed interest in the company. But EMI has denied newspaper reports that it was in talks with the media mogul and Mr Murdoch has said that the price of the company is too high.

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