Former ITV boss Charles Allen takes helm at EMI

Music group EMI today named former ITV boss Charles Allen as executive chairman as the firm battles to improve its fortunes.

The group, which counts Robbie Williams and Coldplay among its artists, said Mr Allen would take on the combined role as current music chief executive Elio Leoni-Sceti prepares to leave at the end of March.



Mr Allen took on the role of non-executive chairman in January and today promised to ensure the firm has "a great future".



EMI, which is owned by private equity company Terra Firma, has seen its finances strained by difficult trading since it was taken over in 2007.



It posted a £1.75 billion loss for the year to March 2009 in accounts released last month after suffering more than £1.1 billion in one-off write-downs and restructuring charges.



Mr Allen, 53, was executive chairman of Granada from 2001 to 2004 and then chief executive of ITV until 2007.



He was at the ITV helm during the merger of Granada and Carlton that created the broadcaster, but his tenure was also slammed for its lack of creative leadership.



His successor Michael Grade said some of ITV's shows were "creatively bankrupt" after he took over, while regulatory controls placed on the company following the tie-up caused a fear of ratings failure.



Today Mr Allen said his goals for the EMI music business remained the same as his predecessor.



"I will support and guide the group's strong team, keep EMI's focus on creativity and superb A&R, and deliver a digital platform," he said.



"This is a great business - our task is to ensure it has a great future."



EMI said Mr Leoni-Sceti had successfully led the company through the "first phase of its operational turnaround".



"Over the past two and a half years, EMI Music has become a stronger and growing company, with a talented senior team, significant creative success and a more rigorous approach to marketing and operations," the firm said.



It said sales were up as a result, while market share had also improved and EMI grew underlying profits during the year to last March.



But the new boss has several challenges ahead as EMI presses on with recovery plans.



EMI cut more than 2,000 jobs in 2008 and recent reports have suggested cost cuts aimed at stripping millions from the business are in the offing.



Terra Firma took on huge debts when it bought the firm for £4.2 billion three years ago and it is thought to be in danger of breach lending terms without further investment - handing control to lender Citigroup.



The music firm is also currently engaged in legal action against Citigroup, claiming the group "misrepresented fundamental facts" over the sale of EMI.



It alleges Citigroup falsely said there were other bidders for the record company, causing it to raise its bid. Citigroup denies the allegations.

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