Born in the U.S.A., Sold to Japan

Sony pays $2 billion for pacesetting CBS Records

As a treasure-house of vital American music, no company is more valuable than CBS Records. Its labels, among them Columbia and Epic, have borne titles ranging from Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. to Michael Jackson's Thriller, from Frank Sinatra's Stormy Weather to Benny Goodman's Night and Day. But now this repository of Americana is passing into foreign stewardship. In the largest-ever Japanese purchase of a U.S. company, CBS agreed last week to sell its record business to Sony for $2 billion.

When Sony made its first bid for the division, offering $1.25 billion last year, the CBS board balked. Reason:...

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