AOL Time Warner and media giant Bertelsmann AG of Germany are discussing a possible merger of their music divisions, The Wall Street Journal reported. Sources told the newspaper that a deal remains "highly uncertain," and likely would cover recorded music, not publishing operations. Still, such a venture would rival industry leader Universal Music Group, a unit of France's Vivendi Universal, as music companies struggle with declining sales, popular, free music downloads, and other challenges.
In a deal valued at just under $1 billion, the giant upscale retailer Selfridge's of London has advised its shareholders to accept buyout terms from Oxford Acquisitions, the British arm of a private holding company controlled by Canadian billionaire Galen Weston. Among other properties owned by Weston are high-end British food retailer Fortnum & Mason; Associated British Foods and its Twinings tea and Mazola cooking oil brands; the Brown Thomas fashion chain of Ireland; and George Weston Ltd., the third-largest baking company in North America. But the Financial Times and Bloomberg.com both reported that Aletheia Partners, another investment group, is considering a bid that would compete with Weston's.