Universal Music Reported Near Deal for BMG

Universal Music Reported Near Deal for BMG 1The Universal Music Group of Vivendi was near a deal last night to acquire the BMG Music Publishing unit of Bertelsmann for about $2.1 billion, according to people briefed yesterday on the negotiations.

The transaction is expected to be announced today, these people said.

It would make Universal the world’s largest music publisher, with a catalog that includes performers of the standing of Elton John and B. B. King.

The acquisition is expected to face scrutiny from regulators, especially in Europe, where this summer the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg overturned approval of the 2004 merger of the music units of Sony and Bertelsmann. That created uncertainty in an industry already stumbling through a digital revolution.

Universal, long favored to win the auction, appears to have edged out several rival offers from Viacom, the Warner Music Group and a group that had included Charles A. Koppelman, a former music industry executive who is chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.