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Warner Music Group Reduces Loss to $136M

Los Angeles – Warner Music Group reported a narrower loss Monday, crediting a restructuring effort that cut costs.

The privately held New York-based firm, home to artists like Madonna and Kid Rock, reported a $136 million net loss for the 10-month period ending Sept. 30, compared to a $239 million loss in the same period last year.

The company was reporting on a 10-month period because it has changed its 2004 fiscal year-end from Nov. 30 to Sept. 30. The period covers three months ending Feb. 29, when the recording company was still part of Time Warner, and the following seven months as an independent company.

Including a benefit from changes in currency exchange rates, total recorded music and publishing revenue was $2.54 billion during the period, up 2 percent over the $2.48 billion recorded for the same period last year. Without the benefit, total revenue was down 3 percent compared to the previous period.

CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said the company’s restructuring plan was ahead of schedule.

“Now that the lion’s share of the restructuring has been completed, we can turn our entire focus to building and developing the company’s roster of recording artists and songwriters,” Bronfman said in a statement.

Factoring in the exchange rates, the company’s recorded music unit generated $2.06 billion in revenue worldwide, up 1 percent over the same period last year. Excluding the benefit would mean an estimated 4 percent decline in global recorded music revenue.

Among the company’s recent top releases were albums by Josh Groban, Green Day and Jet. The previous year, the company’s releases included albums by Madonna, Metallica and Linkin Park.

WMG’s music publishing business saw revenue of $505 million during the period, up 8 percent over the previous year.

Excluding the impact of the exchange rates, the company’s worldwide publishing revenue rose 1 percent, with the bulk of the gains in the United States, the company said.

WMG reported financial results earlier this year after it was acquired from Time Warner Inc. for $2.6 billion by an investor group including Bronfman, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Bain Capital and Providence Equity Partners. The deal closed March 1.

The company forecast the restructuring would generate at least $250 million of recurring annualized savings by the end of 2005. As of Sept. 30, the changes have resulted in an estimated $240 million in annualized cost savings.

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