EMI tries to change the record

So the charming and energetic Elio Leoni-Sceti is leaving EMI at the end of the month, to be replaced by new executive chairman Charles Allen. I met Mr Leoni-Sceti at the FT’s innovation conference in London last year, where he gave an impressive presentation. He seemed to have grasped how serious EMI’s problems were, and how radical the company needed to be if it wanted to recover. He was full of interesting, revenue-generating ideas about how an old media company could transform itself into a new media one.

His official statement declares that he has completed his work at EMI, and that it is time for him to move on. But in an interview in the current issue of Management Today magazine, Mr Leoni-Sceti sounded confident that he still had a lot of work left to do.

“We’re growing in a declining market, we’re gaining share and we’ve worked out a way to bring creative momentum back,” he said. ”I’m staying focused on delivering a vision for this business – I’m very dedicated to EMI.”

Well, things change fast in business. If Guy Hands has lost faith in his former CEO, then the speed of execution comes as little surprise. Meanwhile, baby-boomers will be pleased to see one of their own, Charles Allen, back at the helm of a media business. He is a very grown-up figure, and if the plan is now to find a merger partner he is the right sort of person to pursue that.

Mr Leoni-Sceti will be back, I predict. He is smart and talented. But I fear his experience will serve only to confirm those wise words of Warren Buffett: “When a management team with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”



About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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