For Sale sign goes up at Abbey Road

Cash-strapped music company EMI Group Ltd. is seeking a buyer for Abbey Road studios, where The Beatles recorded some of their most famous songs, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

A man walks on the zebra crossing  made famous from the album cover of The Beatles' 'Abbey Road' in front of Abbey Road Studios

A man walks on the zebra crossing made famous from the album cover of The Beatles' 'Abbey Road' in front of Abbey Road Studios

LONDON — Cash-strapped music company EMI Group Ltd. is seeking a buyer for Abbey Road studios, where The Beatles recorded some of their most famous songs, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

The person said talks had been going on for several months, but a buyer had not yet been found. The individual spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

A spokesman for EMI refused to comment on the sale bid, which could raise tens of millions of dollars for the label.

EMI, whose artists include Coldplay, Lily Allen and Robbie Williams, has struggled financially since it was bought in 2007 for 2.4 billion pounds by private equity firm Terra Firma Capital Partners.

Several big-name acts, including Radiohead and the Rolling Stones, quit the label amid the cutbacks and restructuring that followed Terra Firma’s takeover.

EMI has fared worse than the other major labels — Universal, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group — amid the decline of CD sales and the rise of digital music downloading.

An audited report released last week revealed that Terra Firma needs a huge cash infusion by June to avoid defaulting on its loans from Citigroup Inc. and may require more than US$165 million to last through this year.

If funds can’t be raised and the loan goes into default, Citigroup could seize EMI.

Abbey Road is one of the company’s most high-profile assets, as both a recording studio and a tourist attraction for Beatles fans.

EMI bought the Georgian town house in London’s residential St. John’s Wood neighbourhood in 1929 and turned it into one of the world’s most sophisticated recording studios.

Since the 1960s, it has been one of the world’s most famous rock music studios. Albums recorded there include Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Wings’ Band on the Run and Radiohead’s OK Computer.

It is most closely associated with The Beatles, who recorded most of their albums there.

The crosswalk in front of the north London studio was immortalized on the cover The Beatles’ final studio album, 1969’s Abbey Road.

Potential buyers beware: The famous black-and-white crossing is not included in the deal.

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