Robbie Williams has re-signed with EMI to a long-term multi-album recording deal understood to rank as the most expensive in British history. Industry insiders suggest the global pact could be worth u

Robbie Williams has re-signed with EMI to a long-term multi-album recording deal understood to rank as the most expensive in British history. Industry insiders suggest the global pact could be worth upwards of £50 million (U.S. $78 million) for at least six albums, given that all the earning potentials reach the levels assumed.

Since embarking a solo career, Williams has sold almost 20 million albums worldwide with EMI. As part of the new package, the former Take That pop star is likely to be given more control over his work. It is understood that the agreement includes a commitment to try to break him stateside; in the U.S., he has racked up total sales of just 692,000 copies for two albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In a statement issued to the London stock exchange this afternoon (Oct. 2), EMI said it would benefit from some of Williams' non-recording activities, including touring, publishing, and merchandising. Alain Levy, chairman/CEO of EMI Recorded Music, commented: "We are delighted to have signed a new deal on terms which are good for both parties and to be working with him for many years to come."

In recent weeks, media reports had cited a price for Williams' signature on a contract to be as high as £80 million (U.S. $125 million). Richard Branson's V2 Records and Sony Music were rumored to have competed in the race to sign the singer.

Williams will release his fifth EMI solo effort, "Escapology," in the U.K. on Nov. 18, in time to capture the Christmas market.