Warner Music retunes top tier

U.S., overseas territories find new harmony

In an effort to build a stronger bridge between its units in the U.S. and foreign territories, Warner Music Group has restructured its international operations, promoting Lyor Cohen and Michael D. Fleisher to roles in the newly created office of the chairman.

Warner Music Intl. chairman and chief exec Patrick Vien is ankling as the company splits into three territories.

Cohen, who adds the title of vice chairman, will also be chairman-CEO of recorded music in the U.S. and U.K. and oversee Latin America. Fleisher, also named vice chairman, has been WMG’s exec veep-chief financial officer since January 2005; those titles will now go to Steven Macri, WMG’s senior VP and global controller.

The reorganization divides the world into Warner Music Americas and the U.K.; Warner Music Asia Pacific; and Warner Music continental Europe. Asia Pacific will continue to be led by Lachie Rutherford, reporting to WMG chairman-CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr.

John Reid will continue to run the company’s European operations, reporting to Bronfman for continental Europe and to Cohen for the U.K. Reid will also continue to oversee the company’s international marketing and content efforts, reporting to Bronfman. Company’s Latin American operations will be led by Inigo Zabala, who will now report to Cohen.

The move brings two new areas under the aegis of Cohen: Latin America and the U.K. One goal of the reorganization is to create strategies designed to increase the U.S. audience for music released first in Mexico and South American countries. The reorg also puts the U.K. and U.S. under a single executive for the first time.

Move follows similar setups at the recently reorganized EMI and at Sony BMG, where a top exec oversees both U.S. and U.K. operations.

“We are positioned to transform the organization into a true global enterprise. We can no longer organize the company as simply ‘U.S.’ and ‘non-U.S.’ operations,” Bronfman said in a statement.

Warner Music’s labels include Atlantic, Warner Bros. and Rhino. Roster includes Kid Rock, Jason Mraz and Neil Young.

WMG stock closed at $7.97, down 1.7%.