Imagem Music Group, which owns some of the world's best-known musicals including Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music and The King and I, is nearing the launch of its new London-based European theatrical licensing division.

Rodgers & Hammerstein (R&H) Theatricals Europe will represent a catalogue of Broadway "evergreens" including South Pacific and Oklahoma!, as well as and contemporary classics such as Footloose, throughout the UK and across the European market.

Vivien Goodwin recently joined Imagem as managing director of the new division to prepare for the launch, which is scheduled for January.

Josef Weinberger Ltd, which is currently representing the Imagem theatrical catalogues in Europe, are reportedly working closely with Goodwin and her new staff to ensure a smooth transition.

Bert Fink of the R&H New York office has also joined the London team for a year to aid with the establishment of the new division.

Fink told The Stage recently: "The British market knows the Rodgers and Hammerstein staples very well. But I think it is open to some of our other musicals. Weinberger did a great job, but this gives us an opportunity to really reach out to some of the amateur and professional customers and say: 'Do you know about In the Heights? Carrie? Adam Guettel? There is a lot of our catalogue Britain might be excited to learn about."

R&H Theatricals represents the stage performance rights to over 100 musicals by more than 200 writers. Others in the catalogue include Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey and Babes in Arms, Kern and Hammerstein' Show Boat, Irving Berlin's White Christmas and Annie Get Your Gun, Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza and Floyd Collins and Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars and Lady in the Dark.

Ted Chapin, president of R&H, said of the new division: "Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II always knew the importance of the British and European market, and they both loved London, where they had a production office for many years.

"Our new London branch will give us the opportunity to reinvigorate our catalogue throughout Britain and across the Continent. This is an important move for us, which is why I am sending my longtime R&H colleague Bert Fink to London to help launch this venture."