Universal's Doug Morris Gets Early Contract Release; Move to Sony is Imminent

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Vivendi has signed off on a deal that lets Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris out of his contract on June 30, six months ahead of its original expiration date at the end of this year, a source close to the situation tells Billboard.biz. 

Morris is expected to move to Sony Music Entertainment at that time, where he will fill the shoes of Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, whose contract is up on March 31. An insider tells THR that an announcement from Sony Music is imminent and could come as soon as today, March 2. 
 
It was unclear at press time if the deal that lets Morris out of his contract early also includes a quid-pro-quo arrangement that will give RCA/Jive Label Group chairman/CEO Barry Weiss an early release from his contract, so that he can move to UMG to become head of east coast operations.
 
One source says he expects Weiss to move over to Universal in March, but another doubts Weiss would exit RCA/Jive before the launch of Britney Spears' new album, Femme Fatale, due out on March 29.
 
Unconfirmed reports of Morris' negotiations have been circulating for months, but as recently as Monday, the timing of his departure remained uncertain. 
 
Representatives for Universal and Sony would not comment.
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