Vivendi's Universal Music Group and Sony won the auction for EMI's recorded music and music publishing operations, trumping bids by archrivals Warner Music Group and BMG Music Publishing at the 11th hour. Universal plans to buy EMI's recorded-music unit for $1.9 billion, according to a source involved in the process, while a consortia led by Sony is expected to buy the publishing operation of the British music company for $2.2 billion. Citigroup Inc, which owns EMI, will reap a better-than-expected $4.1 billion from the two deals. Warner Music led the bidding on the recorded music side, while BMG was ahead on the song catalog side, as recently as last week. But, in a surprising move, Warner Music walked away from the auction after failing to agree to terms for taking over EMI's pension liabilities.
Despite Warner Music dropping out, Universal raised its bid for EMI's record label division, which houses such acts as Coldplay, the Beastie Boys, and Katy Perry. On the publishing side, Sony got a last minute assist from investment bank UBS, which agreed to lend it more than $1 billion in financing, the source said. That allowed Sony to raise its offer and trump BMG. Citigroup and Vivendi declined to comment on the matter. (Reporting by Peter Lauria in New York; Editing by Derek Caney)