Music publisher taps former BSkyB topper

Setting into motion a long-term succession plan for its New York-based music publishing arm, EMI Group has tapped former BSkyB chief Martin Stewart to replace Roger Faxon as chief financial officer of the U.K. music giant.

That frees Faxon to return to Gotham as the heir apparent to current EMI Music Publishing CEO-chair Martin Bandier, who will phase out of his role slowly and remain full-time chairman until 2008. Beyond that, Bandier will remain a consultant until 2011.

Faxon, an American, will initially serve in the newly created role of EMI Music Publishing prexy-chief operating officer, effective Feb. 1. He had served as chief financial officer of the division — the world’s largest music publisher — before moving to EMI’s main office in London three years ago.

Stewart officially joined EMI Group on Thursday, but won’t assume the title of CFO until Feb. 1.

Stewart was CFO at BSkyB from May 1998 to August 2004, but resigned shortly after James Murdoch was appointed CEO of the company — a job some had believed Stewart himself might land.

Stewart’s new role reunites him with EMI Recorded Music chairman Alain Levy, whom he worked for when he was finance director at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment — a division set up by Levy when PolyGram acquired Working Title.

“The company has made great strides in positioning itself to flourish in the digital age, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to join such a high quality management team and to participate in the next phase of the group’s growth and development,” Stewart said in a statement.

According to the detailed succession plan orchestrated by EMI Group chair Eric Nicoli, Bandier and Faxon will begin serving as co-CEOs of the publishing division in April 2006.

At that time, Faxon will rejoin the board of EMI Group, while Bandier will relinquish his board seat.

In April 2007, Faxon will become the sole CEO of EMI Music Publishing.

In March 2008, Faxon will assume the duties of chair. While reiterating that the music biz remains a risky investment, investment analysts saw Stewart’s appointment as CFO of EMI as an endorsement of EMI’s brightening prospects as the industry begins to recover from piracy.

Citigroup analyst Marc Sugarman said in a note that Stewart’s previous experience at BSkyB will play an important role in helping EMI drive its digital download and subscription strategy.

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