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Bronfmans Tussle For Parlophone Control

(c) Sky News 2012

A relative of the former chairman of Warner Music Group (Berlin: WB5.BE - news) is forming a duet with Simon Fuller, the music industry impresario, in an attempt to wrest control of some of the most prominent record labels in the world.

I understand that Claridge Inc, a private equity firm headed by Stephen Bronfman, cousin of Edgar Bronfman Jr, is in talks to back an offer by Mr Fuller for Parlophone, the label that counts Coldplay and Kylie Minogue among its artists.

If it does commit funds to the Fuller bid, it would effectively pit the cousins against one another. Edgar Bronfman Jr stepped down as Warner's chairman last December following the company's takeover by Len Blavatnik, the Russian oligarch, but remains on the company's board. Warner is among the other parties vying to buy Parlophone.

Mr Fuller is assembling a heavyweight line-up of financial investors in an effort to secure Parlophone, Mute, Sanctuary and a series of other labels.

Blackwell Fuller, which he founded with Chris Blackwell, who established Island Records, is also in discussions with CJ E&M, the entertainment and media arm of CJ Group, a major South Korean conglomerate.

Searchlight Capital Partners, the buyout firm that owns Hunter Boots, is another potential provider of equity to Mr Fuller's bid although it has yet to make a firm commitment to do so.

Claridge's involvement is significant because of the Bronfman family's history in the music business.

Last week Sky News revealed that Mr Fuller's bid for the labels would be supported by Lord Rothschild, the financier, through his RIT Capital Partners vehicle.

The assets are being sold by Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, in order to satisfy regulators following its £1.2bn takeover of EMI's recorded music arm.

Other bidders for the EMI labels include MacAndrews & Forbes, BMG and Sony Music, but Mr Fuller is said to be well-placed if he secures firm financial commitments because Universal (Xetra: 859669 - news) is unlikely to favour a sale to one of its largest competitors.

Mr Fuller, the founder of Pop Idol and who launched the Spice Girls' careers, is also understood to have ambitious plans to develop the Parlophone artists internationally and through other formats.

Nobody involved in Mr Fuller's bid would comment.