U2 has signed a new agreement with Polygram’s Island Records for worldwide rights to its next six albums, a deal that could rank among the biggest ever offered in the industry.

Terms of the deal, which was announced Wednesday, were not disclosed.

However, U2 has sold more than 50 million albums, making the extension likely comparable to such blockbuster contracts as those signed in the last couple of years by fellow superstars Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince and Barbra Streisand.

One published report pegged the deal at $ 200 million, quoting unnamed industry sources. However, others speculated that that number was being floated more for its prestige value than any basis in reality. Prince’s deal with Warner Bros. Records was widely reported as being worth $ 100 million, a number later conceded to be exaggerated.

U2 has been on Island Records since 1980, the year they released their first single, “11 O’Clock Tick Tock.”

Since then they have released eight albums, including such smashes as “The Unforgettable Fire,””The Joshua Tree” and the current “Achtung Baby.”

Polygram International Music Publishing already owns the international rights to U2′s entire song catalog, through a deal signed in January. Polygram acquired Island in 1989, buying out U2′s 10% stake in that record company in the process.

“I am thrilled that U2 are renewing their deal with Island Records,” said Paul McGuinness, the band’s manager. “When we started out we thought all record companies must be like Island. Now that we know that’s not true, we definitely want to stay with (Island founder) Chris Blackwell and all our new friends at Polygram.”

Alain Levy, Polygram president/CEO, called U2 “one of the world’s most creative and successful rock bands. We are very proud to be associated with talent of such a high caliber.”

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