The Universal Music Group will now manage classical artists and book concerts through its newly-launched unit, Universal Music Classical Artists Management and Productions.

Headed by former IMG Artists senior VP Jeffrey Vanderveen in London, the new business has already booked a series of concerts for Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, recorded for a Deutsche Grammophon disc to be released this month.

Vanderveen's former company has issued a lawsuit against Universal Music Classical Artists Management and Productions, claiming that Vanderveen has been poaching artists.

Other artists signed to the new company include Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja and American baritone Thomas Hampson. Rolando Villazón is expected to sign when his IMG contract expires.

Universal is no stranger to artist management. The major bought ailing music firm Sanctuary Group last year, and with it, a management business guiding the careers of such artists as James Blunt and Elton John.