Former Selfridges chief executive and JJB Sports director Peter Williams has been drafted in to help with the rescue of troubled music business EMI.

Williams, who has established a reputation as a business troubleshooter for his work at JJB Sports and Alpha Airports, has become a director of Maltby Capital, the acquisition vehicle of private equity firm Terra Firma that owns the famous music publisher and label.

Terra Firma bought EMI for £4.2bn in 2007 but last year the business, hit by recession and the decline of the CD market, posted a loss of £1.8bn. A cash injection of more than £120m is needed before May to avoid a breach of covenants which would lead to control of the business passing to Citigroup, with which Terra Firma is embroiled in a dispute dating back to the time of the deal.

EMI bosses believe the business can be salvaged if a new capital structure can be put in place. Williams, who has a strong financial background and was Selfridges’ finance director before becoming chief executive, is expected to play a key role as an independent director able to deal both with the banks and equity owners.