British music group EMI, which earlier this month spurned takeover offers from Canadian conglomerate Seagram, yesterday revealed the Asian financial crisis had badly hurt full-year profits. For the year to March, pretax profit fell 19 per cent to GBP307.1 million (about HK$3.89 billion), although the group insisted underlying sales growth reached 5.8 per cent - ahead of world music market growth of 3.2 per cent. 'Our financial results were adversely affected by a number of cyclical issues this year - the strength of sterling, lower growth in the global music market and the economic downturn in Japan and Southeast Asia - and so do not reflect the underlying strength of our business across both emerging and developed markets,' EMI chairman Sir Colin Southgate said. The group said music markets in Southeast Asia had suffered in line with the economic woes in the region, the hardest hit being South Korean and Thai markets. Asia-Pacific turnover fell 16 per cent to GBP618 million, though operating profit in the region collapsed 81 per cent to just GBP9.7 million, from GBP52 million in the same period last year. The Asian turmoil was calculated as cutting profits by about GBP25 million, while the strength of sterling shaved off a further GBP37 million. EMI Music's Asian operations accounted for the bulk of the decline, as operating profit fell 76 per cent to GBP12.2 million, the group said. However, it managed to retain its market share as sales grew on local successes such as Cantonese singer Faye Wong and international successes the Spice Girls and Michael Learns to Rock. The group also increased its average employee count in the region to 3,321, from 3,188 last year. EMI Publishing said it had entered new markets in Asia, becoming the first international music publisher to open offices in Taiwan and South Korea. It struck an agreement for the first time with the Music Copyright Society of China to represent the group's signed artists on the mainland. The group yesterday rejected suggestions that following the US$10.6 billion tie-up between Seagram and Dutch rival PolyGram it would experience a further adverse impact on its performance. It said it believed it could retain its position as having the second-largest market share of world music sales outside the United States, behind PolyGram, and maintain third or fourth place in the US. The company said it expected the worst of market conditions in Asia had passed, allowing it to perform much more strongly, if Japan was included, and breaking even if Japanese business was excluded.