Madonna's record label sues Warner for $200m

Madonna's record label launched a $200m (£110m) breach of contract lawsuit against Warner Music yesterday marking an end to the 12-year-old joint venture between the two firms.

Madonna's record label launched a $200m (£110m) breach of contract lawsuit against Warner Music yesterday marking an end to the 12-year-old joint venture between the two firms.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, is the culmination of a year-long dispute between the 45-year-old singer's Maverick Recording Company and Warner.

The lawsuit, which predates the recent $2.6 billion purchase of Warner Music by a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr, also names Warner's former owner - Time Warner Inc - as a defendant. Time Warner declined to comment.

The suit, which alleges fraud and false accounting, caps a dispute centring on the future of the venture, home to acts like Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch, after the partnership deal expires at the end of 2004.

According to terms of the deal, Warner reportedly has the option to buy out 60 per cent of the label at the end of the year.

An source familiar with the proceedings said Madonna and her partners tried to sell their 60 per cent stake in the label to Warner Music and its former parent TimeWarner. But those talks broke down over price, with Madonna valuing her stake at about $60 million (£31m) and Warner offering far less.

Representatives for the superstar also approached Mr Bronfman about a deal.

Madonna's lawsuit comes a day after Warner Music filed a claim in a Delaware court asking a judge to rule that it had met commitments in its deal with Maverick and that any claims to the contrary were groundless.

A spokesman for Warner said: "Warner Music Group is simply seeking to affirm that the claims Maverick Records has been making against the company over the past year regarding the joint venture are baseless, unsubstantiated and without merit. We look forward to resolving this issue so all parties can move forward with clarity."

"This effort to resolve ongoing contractual issues surrounding the Maverick Records joint venture agreement in no way impacts the company's deep respect for Madonna."

Calling the lawsuit in Delaware a "sneak attack", Maverick's lawyer Bert Fields said he was doubtful the issues would be resolved out of court and would be a lengthy battle.

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