Japanese star's new album helps EMI back to its winning ways

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The Independent Online

EMI shares jumped yesterday as a hit release in Japan suggested that the company may be relearning its winning ways.

EMI shares jumped yesterday as a hit release in Japan suggested that the company may be relearning its winning ways.

The company also announced the divestment of another non-core asset, its 15 per cent stake in a German music channel, Viva, for €52.3m (£34m). EMI shares rose 4 per cent to 244p.

Japan is the world's second-biggest music market and EMI saw its business in the country suffer in the second half of last year because of delays in its release schedule. It has scored this week however, with a new album from local artist Utada Hikaru, which sold 1.6 million copies in just one day on its release on Wednesday. Signed to EMI subsidiary Toshiba-EMI, Hikaru is one of Japan's best-selling recording artists. Deep River is her third album.

Lorna Tilbian, an analyst at Numis Securities in London, said: "This is very good news. It's exactly what we needed – a good strong release schedule. EMI is reviving its core business."

EMI had initially sent 3.2 million copies of Deep River to retailers but more than half those albums sold over the counter on the first day, and retailers are now quickly placing re-orders. EMI has since distributed 300,000 more copies, all produced at its CD factory in the country. The album is expected to debut at number one on the Japanese charts next week.

Deep River follows two hugely successful albums from Hikaru, also on EMI. In 2000, her debut, First Love became the best-selling album in Japanese history with sales of nearly 10 million. In 2001, her second album, Distance, sold 5.4 million copies.

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