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Sony Completes Deal to Buy Out Bertelsmann

Sony has completed a take-over of the Sony BMG music company which it had previously shared with Bertelsmann, the German media company said Thursday.

Sony's New York headquarters

The 2004 Sony-Bertelsmann deal comes to an end nearly four years on

The equal joint venture between the two firms had been set up four years ago as a way for Bertelsmann to withdraw from the troubled music recording business. Japanese-owned Sony is the world's second-biggest recording company.

Bertelsmann said Sony had paid the purchase price for its 50-percent stake and that the takeover had cleared all anti-trust hurdles and was finalized Wednesday.

Sources said Sony paid less than 1 billion euros to buy out Bertelsmann. SMEI is expected to have annual revenues of 3 billion euros ($4 billion) and to employ a staff of around 6,000.

Bertelsmann, based in Guetersloh, Germany, said it would keep the BMG brand and gear its remaining music business to music rights management, representing artists and authors mainly in Europe.

BMG Rights Management would retain "selected European music catalogues" with the work of more than 200 artists which had been managed by the joint venture with Sony.

The recording industry has been shaken in recent years by the switch in music marketing from discs sold in shops to downloads sold online.

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