Universal Music Germany in Berlin has agreed to enter into a 50:50 joint venture with leading independent label X-Cell, ending a tug-of-war among majors in recent months.

Universal came to the table with the best price, insiders say, after Sony BMG's long-running joint venture with X-Cell ended December 2006.

Financial details of the new five-year contract were not disclosed by either party.

Industry veteran George Glueck founded the X-Cell label in 1998. The label has gone on to break success stories such as pop singer Sarah Connor, who sold more than 500,000 albums in the G/S/A in 2005, and country band Texas Lightning, which sold 200,000 albums in G/S/A in 2005.

"I am really pleased that George has chosen to join Universal Music. We are united in our vision and commitment to long-term development of local artists," comments Frank Briegmann, president/CEO Universal Music Germany. "We will be expanding our position in the domestic market thanks to this partnership."

Glueck, managing director of X-Cell Records, describes Universal Music as "a new and attractive partner for our artists."