Warner Music Says Lyor Cohen Resigns as CEO of Recorded Music

Warner Music Group, acquired by billionaire Len Blavatnik last year, said Lyor Cohen resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of the company’s recorded music operation.

Cohen, who spent more than eight years at the company, resigned effective Sept. 30, New York-based Warner Music said yesterday in a statement. The announcement said he was seeking new challenges, without elaborating.

Cohen, 52, who oversaw labels including Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records and Rhino Entertainment, restructured the business and led the transition to digital sales from CDs and other physical formats, the company said. During his tenure, Warner released albums by The Black Keys, Blake Shelton, Death Cab For Cutie, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Flo Rida.

“Keep on keepin’ on in the tradition of a company that respects and honors the artistic community,” Cohen said to employees and artists, according to the statement.

Cohen came to Warner Music in 2004, after Edgar Bronfman Jr. acquired the record company from Time Warner Inc. (TWX) with private equity firms including Thomas H. Lee Partners Inc. and Bain Capital Partners LLP. He had been chairman and CEO of Universal Music’s Island Def Jam Music Group and earlier worked with Def-Jam co-founder Russell Simmons at Rush Management.

Warner Music this year unsuccessfully sought to buy EMI Group in an auction won by Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music.

Following Cohen’s departure, senior label executives will report to Stephen Cooper, chief executive officer of Warner Music Group, according to the statement.

“Lyor Cohen has built something very special here,” Cooper said. “While we understand his desire to move on to his next challenge, the enduring success of our recorded music division will serve as a great testament to the progress we’ve made during Lyor’s time at WMG.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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