Exec tunes in Universal, Polygram music duo

Further soldifying the exec ranks in the wake of Universal Music Group’s acquisition of Polygram, Jorgen Larsen has been named chairman/CEO of the international operation of the soon-to-be combined music companies.

Larsen, who is prexy of Universal Music Intl., will be responsible for overseeing and guiding the combined companies, while reporting to Doug Morris, worldwide chairman/CEO of Universal Music Group. Morris was officially given the reins of the megacompany Tuesday.

“Jorgen has spearheaded one of the most aggressive and successful worldwide expansion programs in the history of the music business,” said Morris. “He has had a long and unparalleled career, continually proving himself to be a rare (exec) with a talent for balancing business acumen with creative vision.”

Though Larsen’s nod — like Morris’ — doesn’t become effective until the purchase of Polygram closes and the deal passes several layers of regulatory scrutiny, overseas Polygram execs have begun griping that since they have the dominant record company, an overseas leader should have been chosen from their ranks.

Polygram ranks No. 1 in the international marketplace, and insiders note that its U.K. subsid alone generates more revenue than Universal’s entire overseas operation. Also, more than eight times as many Polygram staffers work overseas, compared with less than 1,000 staffers at UMI.

The execs also noted that they reported to Polygram prexy/CEO Alain Levy, who stepped down Monday, and many are being asked to report to Larsen, rather than Morris.

Insider sniping aside, the Larsen move, which had been anticipated (Daily Variety, June 15), bodes well for the international arms of both conglomerates, as industry insiders noted the industry vet has strong talent ties in addition to being a well-rounded businessman.

“By merging the cultures of two successful companies, we will establish a uniquely creative environment for artists and (execs) alike,” said Larsen. “(The merger) is a special moment in the history of the music industry, and I welcome the opportunity to play my part in shaping the future of two successful companies.”

Larsen has grown UMI’s overseas outposts from four to 31. Larsen is also credited with doubling UMI’s sales over the past three years by translating U.S. repertoire into international successes .

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