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Mount to retire as WEA topper

Def Jam's Caparro frontrunner for job

NEW YORK — David Mount, the chairman and chief exec of Warner Music Group’s distribution arm WEA, will retire at the end of this year after nearly a decade on the job.

Warner did not disclose a reason for Mount’s departure, but the veteran music exec had been mulling retirement for some time. A recent and evidently stress-related illness that left him blind in one eye was also said to have been a contributing factor.

Warner Music hasn’t yet named a successor for Mount, but Jim Caparro, the former chairman of Universal Music unit Island Def Jam, is a frontrunner for the job.

Caparro, who is credited as one of the main architects of IDJ’s resounding chart success over the past few years, wasn’t immediately available for comment. A succession announcement is expected sometime this week.

Mount, who took the helm at WEA in 1993, has presided over dramatic changes in the company’s operations over the past two years as WMG topper Roger Ames implemented plans to streamline the major-label group’s back-office divisions.

WEA handles all U.S. distribution, sales and retail marketing of Warner product, as well as CD and DVD manufacturing and Warner’s Ivy Hill packaging and design unit. Exec also presided over the creation of Warner strategic marketing, a new division set up to tap the company’s catalog for special projects, including ventures with parent company AOL Time Warner.

Mount’s recent tenure at WEA is in fact his second: Exec started there in 1977 as a branch marketing coordinator in the Los Angeles office. He later held a VP of sales and distribution post at Warner Home Video.

Just before rejoining WEA, Mount was president and chief executive at retailer Live Entertainment, which controlled the Strawberries music and video chain.

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