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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Universal to buy BMG publishing
The deal will involve the rights to Coldplay's songs
German media group Bertelsmann has agreed to sell its BMG Music Publishing Group to Vivendi's Universal Music in a 1.63bn euros ($2.1bn; 1.1bn) deal.

The division, which owns rights to artists including Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake, is being sold to clear debts.

Vivendi chief Jean-Bernard Levy said the deal was "a unique opportunity to grow our music publishing business".

The transaction requires approval from regulatory authorities.

Wider range

BMG Music Publishing, the world's third-largest music publisher behind Universal and EMI, made 81m euros in profits in 2005 by licensing songs for use in films, video games ringtones and other media as well as through records.

Other artists it owns rights to include Barry Manilow, Mariah Carey and The Beach Boys.

The deal bolsters the music catalogue of Vivendi Universal - which last week struck a deal with online music business Spiralfrog to make its tunes available as free internet downloads.

The sale of BMG Music Publishing has been approved by the supervisory boards of both companies.

Bertelsmann said the sale would help to clear some of the 4.5bn euros debt it took on when it bought out the 25% stake that Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) held in Bertelsmann.

The purchase was the only way Bertelsmann could stop GBL from forcing a stock market listing of the media group.

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