Citigroup hung a “for sale” sign on EMI Group today, saying that it has “initiated a process to explore and evaluate potential strategic alternatives” that could include a sale, recapitalization or a public offering. The home of hitmakers including Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum, Nora Jones and Coldplay is in better shape financially than it was in February, when Guy Hands’ Terra Firma defaulted on its debt to Citigroup. The bank accepted a controlling equity stake in EMI and forgave about 65% of the music company’s debt. But Citigroup is into money, not music. Don’t be surprised if the bank considers splitting EMI’s recorded music operation from its crown jewel — the music publishing business, which includes the rights to standards including New York, New York; Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; Over The Rainbow; and Singin’ In The Rain. Access Industry’s Len Blavatnik, who’s in the process of buying Warner Music, also is probably salivating over the possibility of merging that company with EMI. Edgar Bronfman Jr. had the same dream before last month, when he accepted Blavatnik’s $3.3 billion offer for Warner Music. Citigroup says that “there can be no assurance” that its review will lead to a deal. The bank adds that it “does not intend to disclose developments” until the process is over, expected toward the end of this year.
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