Outlook: Sir Colin gets his timing wrong

HOW Sir Colin Southgate, the chairman of EMI, must lament his fate. At the start of the year he was preparing to ease himself into relaxed semi retirement with his City reputation for creating substantial shareholder value still largely intact. Then came a series of management ructions, culminating finally in the board's rejection of his anointed successor, Jim Fifield, and insistence that Sir Colin stay on as executive chairman.

More unfortunately still, he then rejected a bid from Seagram worth 620p a share, saying he couldn't even consider anything that began with less than a seven. On cue, the sell off in world equity markets began with a vengeance. And finally, to cap it all, Sir Colin has been forced to issue a profits warning, the second this year, sending the shares into a tail spin which took them as low as 320p at one stage yesterday. Sir Colin was just inches away from a clean getaway. He could have been "up, up and away", as he himself puts it, and his timing could hardly have looked more clever. Instead he is left to preside over a grim profits warning and oversee the search for a new chief executive.

It should be pointed out that many of EMI's problems are industry wide and not of its own making. The slowdown in music sales is a global malaise as is the increasingly rapid "churn" of new artists, which mean that few are around long enough to develop a decent, profitable back catalogue of music.

Even so, with the benefit of hindsight, it was plainly the wrong decision to reject Seagram. Whatever Sir Colin does now, his judgement has been called into question. Philips, on the other hand, seems to have displayed remarkable prescience in taking Ed Bronfman's money while it was on offer. The $10bn he paid for PolyGram is beginning to look very expensive indeed.

EMI will no doubt one day achieve that sort of value again, but it could take many years. Still, Sir Colin can always take solace in one of his own records, "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba, with its rousing chorus of "I get knocked down, but I get up again."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn