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UMG AND SONY FACE OFF OVER HARRY STYLES (REPORT)

There’s currently a bidding war between Sony and Universal over One Direction star Harry Styles, with UMG thought to be the current favourite, according to a mistake-riddled report in British tabloid The Sun.

The story correctly notes that Steve Barnett's Capitol Records is said to be the frontrunner as Styles’ U.S. label, with Polydor taking the lead in the U.K. Ted Cockle’s Virgin EMI is another likely contender, thanks to recent success with Justin Bieber and Republic’s James Bay on the British Isles. However, Polydor has two new Presidents in Tom March and Ben Mortimer, and, after spending the last few years running behind Virgin EMI in the marketshare stakes, has something to prove.

The deal is being negotiated, the report continues, by Styles' new manager Jeffrey Azoff, who left CAA in March to launch his own Full Stop Management alongside Tommy Bruce.

Styles will be able to make a fresh start as a solo artist at UMG after five years signed to Sony—where his former bandmate ZAYN is a priority act, the story continues, adding that SYCO boss Simon Cowell is said to be very keen for Styles to stay, with Sony offering lots of incentives.

Cowell is bracing himself for Styles' departure, but he may not be going far: Columbia chief Rob Stringer is another leading candidate for his services, as we’ve reported.

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