Michael Koch, the founder of the company that would become eOne Music, will retire at the end of 2013.

In an email to employees, Koch thanked them for helping to build the company, which began life in the U.S. as Koch International and later became known as Koch Entertainment. In 2005, he sold the company for $80 million to Row Entertainment Income Fund (Billboard, May 2005). The latter firm was subsequently named Entertainment One Income Fund before evolving to eOne.

"It has been quite a ride from when I started the company in January 1987 and since the sale to Entertainment One in June 2005," Koch wrote. “Building the business and making it flourish has been very gratifying, but what I will miss the most is working with all of you. I could not have done it without all the great and dedicated individuals that have worked and continue to work here."

Koch, who is CEO of the U.S. operation, said in the email that eOne has "a strong leadership team in place that is ready to assume additional responsibilities. The company will announce the new leadership structure in the near future."

The company began as a distributor of classical music before diversifying into other genres and adding record label capabilities, which is now known as eOne Music. The distribution company currently has 1.15% in U.S. album plus track equivalent album market share, according to Nielsen SoundScan, while its label comprises 0.46% of that.

Koch International was at the forefront of the trend toward national distribution for independent labels, which up until the 1990s thrived on a network of regional distribution. In 1990 it pacted with the Shanachie label to handle the label's distribution on a national basis.

In a comment on Koch's retirement, Shanachie Entertainment co-founder Richard Nevins said: "I fondly remembered the great adventure we pursued together, not unlike the transcontinental railroad that was completed in 1869 linking the eastern part of the U.S. with the western part -- you, with our help, did the same for independent distribution, linking the whole country into one entity."