If Doug Morris is leaving Universal Music Group for Sony Music any time soon, his departure date may be less certain than what has been described in a new report. On Monday, England’s Telegraph claimed Morris will not be going to Sony Music until the second half of the year due to the length of negotiations between the two companies. But the timing of his arrival at Sony is far from certain, one insider tells Billboard, although representatives for Sony Music and Universal Music Group had no comment.
Universal and Sony have had “amicable,” back-and-forth talks about Morris and there have been some discussions of him leaving at the half-year mark, according to the source. And although the negotiations do not have a definite timeline and have not yet resulted in an agreement between the parties, this source believes an early departure would make sense. “There’s less and less for him to do [at Universal].”
Morris had been Universal Music Group’s chairman and CEO from 1996 until the end of 2010. After Lucian Grange took over as CEO at the beginning of the year, Morris remained chairman.
Reports of discussions between Sony and Morris began to leak out late last year and new details were reported by the New York Post in early February. The Post claimed lengthy negotiations would mean that Morris would not be able to arrive at Sony until “summer or even as late as the end of the year.” The contract of current Sony chief Rolf Schmidt-Holtz expires at the end of March, which would leave Sony without a CEO until Morris is free from his contract with Universal, if he indeed takes over.
The Telegraph’s report had a couple of factual errors, according to Billboard’s source. Morris’s contract with Universal ends December 31, 2011, leaving him free to go to Sony at the beginning of 2012. The Telegraph article said Morris was expected to retire from Universal in 2013. In addition, this person says Morris had never requested to leave in April. Monday’s Telegraph report claims Morris “had wanted to join Sony in April.”