Abbey Road to be saved after EMI is bought back from the bankers

French-owned Universal pays £1.2bn for UK's last remaining major record company

A promise to preserve the famed studios at Abbey Road was music to the ears of some of Britain's biggest bands yesterday, despite the news that the country's only major record company was being broken in two.

Mick Jagger was among those celebrating the sale of EMI's recorded music division for £1.2bn to the French-owned Universal Music Group. He said: "I particularly welcome the fact that EMI will once again be owned by people who really do have music in their blood." Other acts also welcomed the change in ownership. Coldplay manager Dave Holmes said: "This can only be positive for the artists and executives at EMI."

The Rolling Stones singer was alluding to the corporate culture that crept in after private equity firm Terra Firma bought the company for £4.2bn of borrowed money in 2007 – as well as the rumour that Citigroup, the bank which seized EMI earlier this year when bills went unpaid, would retain ownership.

It was Terra Firma's purchase of the companythat led to the departure of one of its biggest bands, Radiohead, which set the tone for the company's slide and eventual break-up. At the time the band's guitarist, Ed O'Brien, said: "It's been taken over by somebody who's never owned a record company before, Guy Hands and Terra Firma, and they don't realise what they're dealing with."

The fate of EMI's music publishing division remains uncertain, but it is expected to be sold to a Sony-led consortium for around $2.2bn. But the end of a long period of uncertainty for its various labels, including Virgin Records and Parlophone, was seen as good news for acts ranging from rapper Tinie Tempah to pop's Katy Perry.

As EMI found itself in ever greater difficulties with its huge debts, fears were raised last year that Abbey Road could be sold to investors – possibly becoming a Beatles museum and cashing in on the tourist value of its location in upmarket St John's Wood in London. The news that it will remain a working studio was all the more welcome for an institution celebrating its 80th anniversary.

"Abbey Road Studios are a symbol of EMI, a symbol of British culture, a symbol for the creative community," said Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal. "This is an historic acquisition and an important step in preserving the legacy of EMI Music. As an Englishman, EMI was the pre-eminent music company that I grew up with. Its artists and their music provided the soundtrack to my teenage years."

Charting the hits the story of EMI

EMI was created in 1931 from the merger of the Gramophone Company, owner of the His Master's Voice record label with its famous Nipper the dog trademark, and Columbia Records. That same year it opened the Abbey Road studios, the first custom-built recording studios in the world.

Star signings to its roster of labels in the 1950s included Shirley Bassey and Cliff Richard, followed in the 1960s by The Beatles (pictured) and Pink Floyd and in the 1970s by Queen and Kate Bush. The company'sflagship EMI label was launched in 1973.

EMI acquired The Rolling Stones after taking over the Virgin label in 1992. More recently, artists joining the label have included Lily Allen (left), Eliza Doolittle, Norah Jones and the Gorillaz. Performers signed to other labels taken over by or licensed to EMI have included Elvis Presley and Snoop Dogg.

Financier Guy Hands took control of EMI in 2007 through his private equity firm Terra Firma but loaded the label with £3.4bn debts and fell out with Mick Jagger who moved The Rolling Stones catalogue to Universal. In February Citigroup wrested control from Mr Hands and yesterday's sale is intended to enable the bank to recoup much of its original loan to Terra Firma.

Suggested Topics
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX, Finance, Networks)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (Linux, Windows, FIX...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Project Manager - ETRM/CTRM

£70000 - £90000 per annum + Job Satisfaction: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...

C#.NET Developer

£300 - £350 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL,MVVM, SOA...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform