Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Money Can’t Buy Abbey Road (Yet)

Want to buy Abbey Road, the famous London recording studio where the Beatles recorded…“Abbey Road”? You’re going to have to wait.

EMI, the record label that owns the property, has put out a release that sort of denies reports that it had put the building on the market. The full text is at the bottom of this post, but the upshot is that:

  • EMI rejected a $45 million offer for the studio last fall
  • EMI would like someone to invest in the property and keep it up and running, but that
  • EMI “believe[s] that Abbey Road should remain in EMI’s ownership.”

The issue here is that EMI’s plans for Abbey Road may not be relevant.

The label’s owner, private equity shop Terra Firma, may end up losing control of the company to lender Citigroup (C). If that happens, it doesn’t really matter what EMI’s current management wants to do.

Here’s the full statement:

EMI welcomes the reported acceleration of English Heritage’s plans to list Abbey Road and supports such a listing as an appropriate way of protecting our world famous music heritage site. In response to recent press speculation, EMI confirms that it is holding preliminary discussions for the revitalisation of Abbey Road with interested and appropriate third parties.

When Terra Firma acquired EMI in 2007, it made the preservation of Abbey Road a priority. Abbey Road studios had, for a number of years, been losing money and we have developed plans to revitalise the studios. These plans would involve a substantial injection of new capital.

Since November 2009, EMI has held discussions with a number of parties with a view to them financing these plans and maintaining this unique venue. At all times, these plans have focussed on providing access to artists and, where possible members of the public.

In mid-2009, we did receive an offer to buy Abbey Road for in excess of £30 million but this was rejected since we believe that Abbey Road should remain in EMI’s ownership.?

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik