Shock news from EMI, which has just announced the rather abrupt departure of its CEO Elio Leoni-Sceti, the ex-Reckitt man brought in by Guy Hands to affect a turnaround at the ailing record company. We always thought it would be a tough gig - but when MT caught up with the smooth-talking Leoni-Sceti last month (he's the big interview in our current issue), he sounded pretty confident about his chances of turning things around. And there was certainly no suggestion that his work there was done, as today's statement claimed. Either way, he's now out of the door - with EMI's non-exec chairman Charles Allen, formerly of ITV, to take over executive control.
EMI said Leoni-Sceti will be on his bike at the end of this month. And rather than appointing a new CEO, EMI will hand the reins to Allen instead - the former ITV boss, who was appointed to the board in January last year, will now become executive chairman. EMI's statement suggests that all this is perfectly logical; that Leoni-Sceti has 'successfully led EMI Music through the first phase of its operational turnaround', and it's now time to move on to stage two. 'Elio has done a great job. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him,' beamed Allen, as he ushered him out the door. Even Elio himself was wheeled out to support this party line: 'My job here is now done and it is time for me to move on,' said the departing CEO.
Hmmm. Strange that Leoni-Sceti was singing a rather different tune when MT spoke to him back in February, for this month's big interview. Then, Elio told MT that 'there is no black cloud over this business... we're growing in a declining market, we're gaining share and we've worked out a way to bring creative momentum back.' And he said he was confident of receiving the backing of his paymasters once he'd completed the strategic plan he was working on. 'I can only do my job. I'm staying focused on delivering a vision for this business - I'm very dedicated to EMI.' But was the reverse true?
One thing's for sure: Leoni-Sceti was always going to have an uphill task when he decided to leave Reckitt Benckiser to join EMI in September 2008. Financially, the famous record label is in a mess: thanks to its acquisition by Guy Hands' Terra Firma in 2007, it's so weighed down by its own debts that it needs a cash injection of £120m to keep the bankers at bay, while at an operating level, it made a loss of £1.8bn last year. According to a letter Leoni-Sceti sent to Hands in October last year (released as part of a court battle with Terra Firma's bankers), the CEO admitted that internal morale was at an all-time low - and that several of its high-profile stars were questioning whether to re-sign (only this morning, Pink Floyd and Queen were being linked with an exit).
All of which is now Allen's problem, not his. But it's hard to see how yet more disruption is going to do EMI any good...
You can read MT's interview with Leoni-Sceti in full online HERE.
In today's bulletin:
Elio Leoni-Sceti out at EMI - and Charles Allen in
Future looks brighter for Northern Rock and Barclays
Passenger numbers up - not the best time for a strike
Degrees have been devalued, say graduate employers
Your route to the top: Seven ways to get noticed