Lucian Grainge was once described by Doug Morris, the man Grainge will replace as CEO of Universal Music Group (UMG) on Jan. 1, 2011, as a "killer shark."

"He is so deceptive with that little kind face and those little glasses," said Morris several years ago. "Behind them, he is actually a killer shark."

"I loved it," was Grainge's response when that comment was put to him.

Grainge has been in the biz all his working life, in publishing and recorded music. In 1979, the 18-year-old Clash and Sex Pistols fan from north London joined April Music/CBS as a talent scout and song plugger and was eventually promoted to head of the creative department in 1981. His first signing was the Psychedelic Furs.

In 1982 he became director of RCA Music Publishing and in 1984 he was made director of A&R at MCA Records. He set up PolyGram Music Publishing in 1986 and joined Polydor as GM of A&R and business affairs in 1993. He was promoted to managing director of Polydor in 1997, and had success with acts including Boyzone and the Lighthouse Family.

For the past ten years, Grainge has held senior positions in the management of Universal Music, including chairman and CEO of Universal Music U.K. in 2001. In 2005 he was appointed chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group International (UMGI), heading the division that manages the group's businesses in more than 50 countries outside North America.

But the 49-year-old still stresses his role as a dealmaker. "I was a talent scout then, and I'm a talent scout now," he said of his mid-'80s career at MCA Records, during his acceptance speech for the Music Industry Trusts' Award in London in November 2008.

Grainge outlined his passion for signing new artists and spoke of the industry's need to overcome the challenges it faces, including piracy. He even referred to a period in the '80s when he was out of work - a reminder that his was not an uninterrupted rise to the top - and stressed that market-leading UMG has had to battle for all its successes.

Morris was in the audience for that event at London's Grosvenor House Hotel along with some of UMG's major talent, including U2 who presented Grainge with the award to mark 30 years in the business.

He has worked closely with songwriters and artists throughout his career, including U2, Elton John, Abba and Amy Winehouse. Universal Music U.K. had an albums market share of 33.7% in 2009, down from 37.1% in 2008, according to the Official Charts Company. Last week, Universal's market share was 35.7% of albums and 38.9% of singles by volume in the U.K.

Grainge has become a familiar face at launches for new services such as Nokia Comes With Music. He has led the major's international digital expansion - reaching deals on services with Sky, Spotify, Virgin Media, Apple, Vodafone, and Sony Ericsson, among others - as well as its investment in entertainment merchandise, live event production, and artist services, including management of classical musicians and performers.

Last summer Grainge reminded the AGM audience of U.K. trade body the BPI that talent was key for the future of the music industry, telling fellow executives to "stop this spiral of negativity" that surrounds the biz and describing music delivery via the Internet as "the greatest opportunity of my entire career."

Grainge, a father of three, has long been tipped for the top job at UMG in New York. So he has had plenty of time to reconcile himself to the move away from the family home in Richmond, southwest London, and his cherished Arsenal Football Club in north London.

In Britain's New Year Honors for 2010, Grainge was awarded a CBE in recognition of his services to the creative industries. He has advised both the U.K. government and the opposition Conservative party on cultural policy, including measures to tackle piracy in the government's Digital Britain report.