HITS Daily Double


Reports: Former Arista VP/GM Mestel in at Virgin, to Work Alongside Serletic
The long-rumored arrival of veteran exec Larry Mestel at Virgin (coyly hinted at in this space for a good long time) has come to pass, according to reports in this morning’s New York Post and Los Angeles Times.

Depending which paper you read, Mestel is either Chief Operating Officer or General Manager. But the important part is he will report directly to Virgin Chairman Matt Serletic, presumably as second in command.

Mestel was most recently Executive VP/GM at Arista, where he assumed responsibility for the label following the ouster of CEO L.A. Reid in January. He is credited with helping keep the hugely successful Usher release on track despite Arista’s imminent consolidation.

He arrives at Virgin at a crucial time, as Serletic-shepherded releases from Janet Jackson, N.E.R.D. and Lenny Kravitz hit the streets and are being closely watched as the label attempts to shore up its sales. Jackson’s album is currently #3 on the HITS Album Chart.

No official announcement of Mestel’s appointment has yet been made, but one is expected this week. What’s next for Virgin President Roy Lott is unclear, though an EMI spokesperson told the Times that “his status has not changed.”

Mestel was hired by Reid at Arista in July 2000. Prior to that, he was COO of Chris Blackwell’s Palm Entertainment after previously serving as COO of Island Entertainment Group.