It's official: outgoing Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris will become Sony Music Entertainment's chief executive officer on July 1. The announcement was made on Wednesday by Sir Howard Stringer, Sony Corporations' chairman, CEO and president.
"I have known Doug Morris for many years, and am delighted that he has agreed to lead Sony Music Entertainment," Stringer said in a statement. "At this critical time in the evolution of the music industry, I can think of no one more qualified as a proven executive, an innovator, a music impresario and a statesman than Doug Morris. I welcome him to the company and look forward to our working together to drive Sony Music to preeminence in the industry."
As reported earlier on Wednesday on Billboard.biz, Morris will remain as Chairman of Universal Music Group until June 30. At Sony he will replace outgoing CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, who is leaving when he contract expires on March 31. That leaves Sony without a CEO for the entire second quarter of 2011. Stringer will oversee executive decision-making during that interim period.
Morris was both CEO and chairman at Universal until the beginning of 2011, at which point Lucian Grainge took over as the company's CEO and Morris retained the title of chairman.
This announcement comes after days of speculation about the timing of Morris's departure from Universal. Media reports have claimed the two companies had been negotiating for Morris to depart the company anywhere from this week to the second quarter of the year. As recently as Monday, the timing of Morris' departure for Sony was still uncertain.
A source told Billboard that that Sony and Universal had been in "amicable" discussions and pointed to a likely departure in the middle of the year. News of the two companies' discussions first surfaced in late 2010.