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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Battle to sign Williams continues
Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams' contract with EMI ended in February
Speculation is mounting that V2 Records, the label owned by Sir Richard Branson, is joining the race to sign Robbie Williams, whose contract with EMI expired in February.

The label, which began five years ago, will reportedly be battling it out against some of the world's biggest music groups, including Sony, Warner Bros, Universal, and DreamWorks, to sign the singer.

Final bids must be submitted in the next two weeks, with a deal to be announced in September.

The Independent newspaper reported that V2 was a "surprise entrant" into the bids to sign the highly bankable singer.

Mariah Carey
EMI paid 38m to sever their contract with Mariah Carey
But EMI is keen to retain Williams, who has been one of the label's most successful acts of recent years with a string of hit singles and albums.

His most recent release was the big band tribute album Swing When You're Winning.

EMI has had a rocky 12 months, cutting 1,800 jobs and suffering a string of chart flops.

Most notably, they paid Mariah Carey 38m earlier this year to sever her contract after the failure of the Glitter album, the soundtrack to the film of the same name in which she starred.

Artists signed to V2 Records include Moby, Stereophonics, The White Stripes and recent chart-toppers Liberty X.

Complex

Although the label was making losses, Branson refinanced it in April with the help of investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, who took a 47.5% stake in the company.

Williams, whose contract is estimated to be worth 40m, is seeking a complex deal which will enable him to have greater control over certain aspects of his career.

A spokesman for V2 told BBC News Online that the label was unable to comment at the present time.

See also:

26 Mar 02 | Music
26 Mar 02 | Music
20 Mar 02 | Business
23 Dec 01 | Music
14 Feb 02 | Music
16 Dec 01 | Music
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