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Warner Music Sale Completed

March 02, 2004|Jeff Leeds | Times Staff Writer

A private investor consortium led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. said it completed its $2.6-billion purchase of Time Warner Inc.'s worldwide music division and began a restructuring that would slash about 1,000 people from its payroll.

As expected, Atlantic Group Chairman Val Azzoli and Elektra Entertainment Group Chairwoman Sylvia Rhone exited the company as Bronfman initiated a merger of the two New York-based labels. Sources said Atlantic Co-President Ron Shapiro, who has guided the careers of such acts as Jewel and P.O.D., also was let go Monday.

The purchase comes as Warner must decide how to handle talks with some of its top artists. They include rap star Missy Elliott, who owes Elektra one more album and has been shopping for a new contract, and Madonna, who has been trying to sell her stake in Maverick Recording Co., launched as a joint venture with Warner in 1992.

The Bronfman purchase brings down the curtain on Time Warner's role as a major player in the music business for three mostly lucrative decades. Under the agreement, Time Warner retains the option to buy up to 15% of Warner Music at any time during the three years after the closing.

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