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AND NOW HERE’S THE NEWS: For the...

AND NOW HERE’S THE NEWS: For the past few week, the talk of the industry has been the possible sale of RCA/Ariola International, the industry’s third-largest record distributor. The parent company has refused to confirm or deny rumors of an impending sale. However, that hasn’t stopped gossips from speculating on potential buyers, who so far have included everyone from Walt Disney Co. and Coca-Cola (which has corporate links to the label through its Columbia Pictures wing) to a possible combined effort by Arista Records President Clive Davis (whose label is distributed by RCA) and former 20th Century Fox Chairman Alan Hirshfield.

Another set of rumors has focused on MCA Records as a possible buyer. MCA Record Division President Irving Azoff denied that the label has been in negotiation. “We’re always ready, willing and able to talk about acquisitions, when they involve an international company,” Azoff said, adding that he has not personally been involved in any informal talks but that “every investment banker in the business has facts and figures on RCA, so there’s certainly been an exchange of information.”

At RCA, staffers are still giving the best odds to Coca-Cola, especially after all the Pepsi-Cola cans began to disappear from vending machines at label headquarters a few weeks ago. Industry observers are also keeping a close eye on Arista chief Davis, whose contract is reportedly up in December. Sources say Davis has an important card to play, noting that two key Arista acts, Whitney Houston and Hall & Oates, have “key-man clauses” in their contracts that could allow them to leave Arista if Davis goes elsewhere.


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