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Companies that didn't make the first cut include Viacom and financial entity Permira, while a proposed management buy-out led by BMG Music's Chief Executive Nicholas Firth also failed to progress.

VIVENDI IS TOP BIDDER FOR BMG MUSIC PUBLISHING

Warner, BC Partners, EMI Still in the Mix as Second Round of Auction Kicks In
Vivendi is in the lead to acquire BMG Music.
 
Universal Music has offered close to $2 billion in the auction of Bertelsmann's music publishing arm, the Financial Times said today, citing two people familiar with the situation.

UMG now advances to the second round along with Warner Music and private equity group BC Partners, with bids coming in between $1.5 and $2 million.

Earlier this week, Bertie said strategic and financial bidders would participate in a second round of bidding for BMG Songs that begins this week.

Fifteen prospective buyers have been sent information about BMG Music Publishing, which analysts expected to fetch at least 1.5 billion euros.

Companies that didn't make the first cut include Viacom and financial entity Permira, while a proposed management buy-out led by BMG Music's Chief Executive Nicholas Firth also failed to progress.

Universal Music is now seen as a front-runner in the bidding because of the potential cost savings from merging BMG's operations with its own. Universal is the world's largest record company but smaller than some of its rivals in publishing.

EMI Group is working with private equity group KRR on a plan to provide services to BMG Music, according to the FT.

Bertlesmann needs the cash from any sale to pay back the $6 billion it owes Groupe Bruxelles Lamberg after reacquiring the 25% of the company it had reluctantly ceded to the Belgian investment firm so it can remain privately owned by the Mohn family.

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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