Michael Jackson Makes Changes

Michael Jackson waves in Tokyo in this Sunday, May 28, 2006 file photo.
AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
Michael Jackson has fired his business managers, has hired a New York firm to oversee his financial affairs and is moving to Europe, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

His spokeswoman, Raymone K. Bain, said in a statement that she has been named general manager of the new Michael Jackson Co., which will replace Jackson's MJJ Productions.

The pop star has been living in Bahrain since he was acquitted of child molestation charges a year ago.

Jackson has severed ties with his Bahraini lawyers and his longtime accountants and business managers, Bernstein, Fox, Whitman, Goldman & Sloan. Bain said he has hired L. Londell McMillan and The McMillan firm, "known for business restructurings and turnarounds."

Other management changes are expected and will be announced later, Bain said.

Jackson had been rumored to be on the verge of bankruptcy for some time. But in April, his Bahraini lawyers announced that he had restructured his finances in a deal with Sony Corp. The company shares ownership of his valuable music catalog, which includes the Beatles' hits.

Jackson recently had to shutter his elaborate Neverland ranch in Santa Ynez, Calif., because of unpaid salaries and insurance fees.

The change in management, which Bain called "the first of a sweeping restructuring of his personal and business affairs," is an apparent attempt by Jackson to salvage his finances.

Jackson was in Ireland on Tuesday "on personal business," Bain said in her statement.

The singer will maintain a house in Bahrain, Bain told The Associated Press in a phone interview. He decided to move to Europe for access to music industry figures, she said.

"He is very serious about his music," she said. "When you are a creative person and the creative juices are flowing again and you're about to embark on new projects, you want to make sure your organization is running smoothly."

Jackson is planning appearances and performances in the next several months, Bain said. He expects to release an album next year, she said.

Jackson's chaotic financial dealings will be put in the spotlight in a Santa Monica, Calif., courtroom this week in a lawsuit over whether he owes $3.8 million to a former business associate.

F. Marc Schaffel claims he is owed for unrepaid loans and expenses and salary.

Schaffel's attorney, Howard King, portrayed the 47-year-old singer as an incurable spendthrift who sought financial guidance from advisers, then ignored it.

Jackson claims Schaffel defrauded him and hid facts of his shady past.

The McMillan firm has been involved in handling the affairs of other music artists including Stevie Wonder, Prince and Jay-Z, Bain said.

A woman who answered the phone at The McMillan Firm referred inquiries back to Bain. His longtime business manager, Alan Whitman, did not immediately return a phone call.