Bertelsmann bent

German giant may buy EMI or Sony Music

BERLIN — Media giant Bertelsmann is considering plans to buy EMI or Sony Music, in line with its goal of becoming the world’s biggest music company, German weekly Der Spiegel reports in today’s issue.

The article quotes Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff as saying that the company plans to become No. 1 in music this year. According to the report, Bertelsmann plans to make a major purchase in the coming months, and EMI and Sony are at the top of the list.

Bertelsmann spokesman Oliver Herrgesell declined to comment on EMI and Sony but confirmed that Bertelsmann is planning to become the world’s biggest music company from its current position, No. 4 overall. “How exactly we will become number one, we can’t say,” he said.

Bertelsmann was also approached with a merger proposal last year by America Online, which announced a record merger with Time Warner last week, but the German firm’s shareholders blocked it in a desire to remain independent.

Industry experts have said the AOL/Time Warner merger is expected to speed the tempo of selling music online.

Of the recording industry’s top five major music labels, Sony Music ranked second last year in terms of album-sale growth followed by BMG, Warner Music and EMI. Seagram led the pack.

Middelhoff said Bertelsmann also wanted to be No. 1 in Internet media content and e-commerce and also strengthen its position in the U.S. magazine sector.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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