Beggars Group founder Martin Mills has been reappointed chairman of the board for Merlin, as the global rights body for independent music companies reports a highest-ever number of candidates for its biennial board election.

London-based Mills returns as chairman of Merlin for another two-year term, while Erik Gilbert (Essential Music & Marketing -- U.S.) and Ashley Whitfield (Evolution Music -- Hong Kong) join the board for the first time.

Seats on the board are divided into three territorial blocs, with equal representation given to North America, Europe and the Rest of the World. Merlin members determine the make-up of the 15-seat board.

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Representing Europe are Erik Brataas (Phonofile -Norway), Michel Lambot (PIAS Group - Belgium), Mills, Florian von Hoyer (Altafonte - Spain) and Horst Weidenmueller (!K7 - Germany).
The North American board members are Glenn Dicker (Redeye Distribution and Yep Roc Records – U.S.), Gilbert, Dave Hansen (Epitaph Records – U.S.), Geoff Kulawick (IDLA - Canada) and Tom Silverman (Tommy Boy – U.S.). Members for ROW are Colin Daniels (Inertia - Australia), Hilton Roth (African Dope – South Africa), Luciana Pegorer (Delira Musica - Brazil) and Whitfield.

Non-voting observers added to the North America and Europe blocs are Kris Gillespie (Domino Recording Co - U.S.), Darius Van Arman (Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar/Numero Group/Secretly Canadian - U.S.) Emmanuel de Buretel (Because Music - France) and Oke Goettlich (Finetunes - Germany). No observers have currently been added for the ROW.

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“That this election attracted such strong candidate numbers, representing some of the world’s most important music companies, is testament to Merlin’s standing within the independent community,” comments Merlin CEO Charles Caldas in a statement. “We were founded as a truly global operation, a fact reflected in the make-up and construct of our board, and I am honored to lead an organization that draws together such experience and expertise.”

Caldas, an Australian-born exec whose CV includes stints as Shock Records CEO, and board positions at ARIA, AIR and the Worldwide Independent Network, was at the helm of Merlin when it launched back in 2007. At the time, the rights agency described itself as the “virtual fifth major;” today, it’s the “virtual fourth major.” Merlin has negotiated a range of deals, including licensing arrangements with Spotify, YouTube and Rdio, and the organization sued and settled on behalf of its members with the likes of XM Satellite Radio, Grooveshark and LimeWire.