What were the folks at Access Industries looking for in a candidate to replace Edgar Bronfman Jr as CEO of Warner Music? Someone who knows the music industry inside out — or who can hob-nob with Warner’s money-makers such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Missy Elliot, Randy Travis, and Aretha Franklin? Apparently not. The press release about Stephen Cooper’s new gig running Warner Music notes that he is on the board of “one of the world’s largest olefins, polyolefins, chemicals and refining companies” — and has “more than 30 years of experience as a financial advisor.” I suppose Warner didn’t want to come right out and say that Cooper is a turnaround expert who has worked with corporate basket cases including Enron, KrispyKreme Donuts, and most recently MGM as it went through bankruptcy.
Bronfman kept up appearances, saying that Warner Music is “well-positioned for its next exciting chapter.” He’ll switch jobs with Cooper, who had been chairman, to fulfill “my desire to focus on growth opportunities.” Cooper will handle day-to-day operations. Lyor Cohen, who runs the recorded music unit, and Cameron Strang, who’s in charge of publishing operation Warner/Chappell Music, will report to Cooper. He may have to make a lot of big decisions soon: Warner is one of the leading bidders for EMI as the auction, run by Citigroup, enters its home stretch. In addition to the Cooper appointment, Warner added financier Thomas H. Lee to its board, increasing the number of directors to 10.