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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 22:25 GMT 23:25 UK
Bertelsmann buys Britney music firm
Britney Spears at the UK premiere of her film Crossroads
Zomba's artists will 'definitely strengthen' Bertelsmann
The German media giant Bertelsmann has agreed to buy the US music company behind pop princess Britney Spears and boy band NSync.


Zomba's impressive results...are perhaps the most spectacular in the industry

Bertelsmann chairman

Zomba, the largest independent music producer in the US, will become part of Bertelsmann later this year.

The two companies did not disclose what Bertelsmann had agreed to pay for Zomba; the German firm has previously estimated the likely price at $3bn (2bn; 3.1bn euros).

Zomba held an option to force Bertelsmann to buy the balance the company under an agreement dating from 1996.

Natural relationship

"While the exercise of this option will undoubtedly be a surprise to many in the music industry, this is a natural culmination of many years of close business ties and a complex series of agreements negotiated 12 years ago," said Zomba chairman and chief executive Clive Calder.

Bertelsmann's music recording arm, BMG, already held a 25% stake in Zomba's music publishing business and owned 20% of its record division.

Bertelsmann anticipates the purchase "will definitely strengthen our music business."

"Over the years I have admired Zomba's impressive results, which are perhaps the most spectacular in the industry," said Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann chairman and chief executive.

BMG's music catalogue includes superstar singer Whitney Houston and the Dave Matthews Band.

In its annual report, the German firm had estimated the price tag for Zomba at $3bn if the option were exercised.

Last week it launched a 1bn euro corporate bond to raise funds, which sector watchers believe will be used to help pay for Zomba.

Bertelsmann's other recent purchases include embattled US song-swapping company Napster and US online music firm Myplay.

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