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Will he stay or go?

BMG, Davis spin contract rumors

A flurry of statements surrounding the future of Arista Records’ chief Clive Davis heightened Wednesday as Davis insisted he has no plans to retire and suggested he might start his own media company.

BMG Entertainment CEO Strauss Zelnick, Davis’ boss, stated publicly that he wants to keep Davis on but that Arista badly needs a successor to the legendary 66-year-old music exec.

BMG, sources said, intends to tap L.A. Reid of LaFace Records as Arista’s new president and CEO — titles currently held by Davis. Davis could be bumped up to chairman and continue on at Arista with more limited oversight of its day-to-day operations if he chooses.

LaFace is a joint venture with Arista. Reid wouldn’t start until Davis’ current contract expires June 30.

“Everyone at BMG — especially me — hopes that Clive will stay on to continue building his legacy and ensuring Arista’s continued success in decades ahead,” Zelnick said.

Davis dismissed speculation that his job was in jeopardy due to Arista’s financial performance. Arista “has never been more successful in both sales and profits,” he said.

In order to keep Davis on, BMG has apparently offered to help set him up in his own new music venture.