Billboard has learned that former Bug Music CEO John Rudolph and Lava Records founder Jason Flom have partnered to throw their hat in the bidding ring for the EMI assets that Universal Music Group must sell as part of the terms of their acquisition of EMI. According to a source close to the pair, the two will likely make a bid when the auction begins. Sources say that UMG's investment bankers are still collecting signatures for non-disclosure agreements and won't have the data room ready for another week or two.
Per the terms of the European Commission agreement, the assets must be sold to a buyer with a track record in running a music company and experience in management. But some sources say there is wiggle room on whom the assets are sold to, pointing out that all a financial buyer has to do is hire a former label president and they will qualify.
Flom, of course, was a top A&R exec at Atlantic before founding Lava Records in the mid-'90s; he worked with Kid Rock, Tori Amos, Skid Row, Matchbox Twenty and many others over the years. He joined Virgin in 2005 and ultimately became CEO of Capitol Records Group. Today Lava has a partnership with Universal Republic, releasing Jessie J and other acts.
Rudolph is still relatively fresh from his successful September 2011 exit from Bug Music, the giant independent publisher that was sold to BMG Rights Management for an excess of $300 million. As CEO of Bug, Rudolph oversaw more than 35 acquisitions including the Windswept catalog and a blockbuster deal with Kara DioGuardi's Talenthouse company.
Flom and Rudolph are negotiating with potential equity partners. Other bidders on the assets will likely include BMG Rights Management, Warner Music Group, and, according to the Financial Times, two other groups: Simon Fuller and Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, with backing from Lord Jacob Rothschild's RIT Capital Partners; and Ronald Perelman's investment company MacAndrews & Forbes.