Industry veteran Richard Griffiths is preparing to launch an imprint through Sony in the United Kingdom. He is also consulting on an A&R basis for Sony Music U.S. president Don Ienner.

Industry veteran Richard Griffiths is preparing to launch an imprint through Sony in the United Kingdom. He is also consulting on an A&R basis for Sony Music U.S. president Don Ienner.

Downplaying as "completely exaggerated" recent reports that he is poised to re-join Sony Music in the U.S., Griffiths has revealed to Billboard.biz details of his two new "separate and connected" ventures to unearth new talent for the major.

"I'm not returning to the U.S.," he confirms. Press speculation on the former Epic president's return to Sony in the States first arose last September, following Polly Anthony's departure from the company, and has been reignited recently.

The new London-based imprint will be part of Griffiths' Modest! Management. He and longtime partner Harry Magee will steer the operation, working closely with Sony Music U.K. chairman/CEO Rob Stringer.

"Purely, we're an A&R source to find and develop acts at a very early age, and then when they're ready, plug them into the Sony machine," he explains. All acts will be signed to Sony. "Harry and I are going to find one or two acts each year, but there are no acts yet. It's very early days," he says.

Sony is expected to announce the label in the coming days.

Griffiths formed Modest! Management after the shuttering in January 2003 of the Firm's London office, where he was president of international operations. Modest currently has four clients, including Brit Award-winning Sony artist Lemar, whose album "Dedicated" has sold about 500,000 copies in Britain, according to the record company.

Griffiths served as Epic president in the U.S. from 1994-98; he then shifted to BMG, ultimately becoming president of the United Kingdom and Europe. He left BMG in July 2001 to set up the British arm of L.A.-based management company the Firm.