French media and telecommunications conglomerate Vivendi has agreed to acquire BMG Music Publishing from Bertelsmann of Germany for about $1.6 billion euros ($2.05 billion), according to a source familiar with the situation.
Bertelsmann and Vivendi's Universal Music Group subsidiary are expected to finalise the deal on Wednesday, the source said. Warner Music Group and Viacom were also believed to be bidders for the music publishing business.
The acquisition will make Universal's music publishing holdings the largest in the world. According to market data by London research firm Inform Group, EMI Music Publishing had a 17 per cent share of the worldwide music publishing market, followed by Warner/Chappell Music with 16 per cent, BMG with 13 per cent and Universal with 12 per cent, Dow Jones Newswires reported Monday.
That would leave the newly merged Universal-BMG music publishing business with a quarter of the market. The deal would still need to pass regulatory muster.
That is not a given. Warner and EMI called off their merger negotiations in July after a European Union court annulled the 2004 merger of Sony's and Bertelsmann's music subsidiaries. Even before the two sides canceled their talks, EMI had insisted that any merger include the sale of Warner/Chappell, a move that could have helped the deal pass regulatory scrutiny.