Former Universal Music International president/COO John Kennedy is understood to be joining the IFPI in London to succeed current chairman/CEO Jason Berman, Billboard.biz has learned.

Former Universal Music International president/COO John Kennedy is understood to be joining the IFPI in London to succeed current chairman/CEO Jason Berman, Billboard.biz has learned.

Berman's contract expires at the end of 2005, but he has been discussing various options with the IFPI board for several months, including leaving before the end of his term. One option was to relocate to New York to finish the last year of his mandate.

It is understood that there will be a transition period, with Kennedy taking the IFPI helm before the organization's board meeting Nov. 10 in New York, and Berman staying on until the end of the year, sources say.

The IFPI declined comment.

Kennedy left UMI in February. At the time, he cited his weariness of constant traveling and a need for new challenges. He was planning to set up a representation and consultancy firm.

Kennedy took the UMI role in July 2001, moving from Universal Music U.K., where he was chairman/CEO. He was previously chairman of PolyGram in the United Kingdom; prior to that, he was a successful entertainment lawyer.

Berman, 66, arrived in London on Jan. 1, 1999, as the IFPI's first full-time chairman/CEO. He served three two-year terms. Before joining the international trade group, he was chairman of U.S. body the RIAA. A master lobbyist, he is widely credited for raising the global profile of the recording industry in challenging times.

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