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Sony and BMG make a joint bid for Parlophone

The $500m bid reunites Sony and Bertelsmann.

The Japanese electronics giant Sony Corporation and BMG, a partnership between Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Bertelsmann, have agreed to make a joint bid for Parlophone and other EMI assets that are part of Universal Music Group (UMG).

Around 12 companies are interested in bidding for the British label Parlophone, including Warner Music, which recently appointed the former Sony executive Rob Wiesenthal as COO to strengthen its chances of purchasing the assets.

In 2012, Warner was unsuccessful in its bid for EMI’s recorded and music publishing divisions. 

Also bidding will be a consortium led by Simon Fuller, creator of American Idol, and Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, and the investment group MacAndrews & Forbes.   

A joint bid will enable Sony and BMG to make a more competitive offer. If their bid is successful, the companies will split the assets without forming another joint-venture firm.

In December 2012, BMG acquired the UK music label Mute. A spokesman from the company told the Financial Times: “We have already demonstrated with our bids for publishing copyrights from Sony and the Mute Records catalogue from Universal that BMG is an active player in the reshaping of the music industry. To that end we will do what is necessary to make any bids as competitive as possible.”

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.