Warner Music Group and EMI are again in the throes of a takeover battle. The latter, whose artistes include Kylie Minogue and Coldplay, this week rejected a £2.5 billion ($4.54bn; €3.61bn) offer from US-based Warner, for which it had already made its own unsuccessful $4.2 billion bid.

Last month analysts predicted Warner would accept a new and sweetened EMI overture, but this bold counter-offensive suggests otherwise. Nonetheless, industry insiders believe a tie-up between the world's third and fourth largest music groups to be inevitable.

They have been fencing for many years, with agreements nearly reached in 2000, 2001 and 2003. But neither side has been able to make a decisive move due to regulatory opposition or the intervention of other investors.

A merged EMI-Warner Music would put the business on a par with the two biggest players, Universal Music and Sony-BMG.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff