John Gapper

The Cinderella story of the unexpectedly successful Citigroup auction of EMI – with the business being sold in two halves to Vivendi’s Universal and Sony – is the recorded music division.

The FT reports that Universal is paying about $1.9bn – more than the $1.7bn-$1.8bn that Citigroup, which took over the business from Guy Hands’ Terra Firma, initially hoped to get. That appears to signal some life in recorded music, after all.

The conventional wisdom of recent years has been that, while the music publishing companies that hold the back catalogue rights for well-known music, still had some value, recorded music values were slipping due to mass piracy and the digital revolution. Read more

John Gapper

I dropped into the best free entertainment in New York on Wednesday afternoon – the last day of the trial to decide whether a Citigroup banker deceived Guy Hands, head of the Terra Firm private equity group, into making his disastrous bid for EMI in 2007.

The trial in the Southern District Court in Lower Manhattan had a surreal air, since it involved UK executives and bankers debating what occurred in London to a British company in front of US lawyers and a jury of New Yorkers.

This involves some incongruous moments, such as the explanation by Ted Wells, Citigroup’s lead attorney, to the jury that Gatwick “is a very large airport, it’s like La Guardia” (in reference to another deal in which Terra Firma was involved). Read more