August 5, 2008 / 6:01 PM / 11 years ago

TIMELINE: Sony BMG's ambitions, legal woes, management spats

(Reuters) - Sony agreed to buy out Bertelsmann’s 50 percent of Sony BMG on Tuesday, ending a four-year music joint venture that never managed to beat the woes of an industry in decline. Following are some of the key events in Sony BMG’s history:

- January 21, 2000: Bertelsmann says it is weighing up acquisitions in a bid to become a leading music industry player.

- October 9, 2003: Bertelsmann says it is in talks with AOL Time Warner, Sony and EMI Group over a deal to create a joint venture with its BMG music label.

- November 6, 2003: Bertelsmann says it plans to merge its BMG music business with that of Japan’s Sony in a 50-50 joint venture.

- January 26, 2004: A contingent of independent music labels vows to fight the proposed merger.

- February 12, 2004: The European Commission says it will open an in-depth probe into the planned music merger.

- July 20, 2004: The European Commission unconditionally approves the merger of Sony Music and BMG. CEO-designate Andy Lack tells Reuters he is ready for the new role, which presents “terrific challenges”.

- December 3, 2004: Europe’s independent record labels say they have filed a legal challenge to the European Commission’s approval of the merger.

- December 13, 2004: CEO Lack tells the Financial Times he plans to double investment in artists and songs in order to reap the benefits of a music industry revival.

- May 3, 2005: Restructuring charges at Sony BMG hit Bertelsmann’s net profit.

- July 15, 2005: Number-two executive at Sony BMG, Michael Smellie, resigns as chief operating officer to return to his family in Australia.

- October 10, 2005: Bertelsmann tells Sony it does not want to renew the contract of Sony BMG Chief Executive Andrew Lack, the New York Times reports.

- October 11, 2005: Sony CEO Howard Stringer throws his support behind Lack.

- November 19, 2005: Sony BMG’s European head says the company will miss its 2005 sales target in Germany.

- February 1, 2006: Bertelsmann board member Rolf Schmidt-Holtz will oust Andy Lack as Sony BMG CEO, Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports.

- February 3, 2006: Schmidt-Holtz tells aspiring music executives the wrong CEO can destroy a company in two years.

- February 10, 2006: Lack and Schmidt-Holtz swap roles to resolve the months-long battle between the parent companies.

- March 22, 2006: Bertelsmann’s CEO says Sony BMG’s share of the global market for recorded music fell in 2005.

- June 1, 2006: Two more Sony BMG executives quit.

- July 13, 2006: The European Commission says it will have to re-examine the Sony Music-BMG merger after a European court annuls the way it approved the 2004 deal.

- October 3, 2007: Sony and Bertelsmann win European Commission clearance for the joint venture, for a second time.

- Aug 5, 2008: After weeks of speculation, Sony and Bertelsmann say Sony has agreed to buy Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in Sony BMG.

Reporting by Georgina Prodhan

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