Apple and Vivendi Universal have finally made moves to quash rumours that the computer firm is about to make an offer for the Universal Music Group record label.
Earlier this week a Bloomberg news report quoted Vivendi Universal board member Claude Bebear saying that Apple "will probably make an offer for the music business, for about $6bn [£3.8bn]".
But Bebear has since released a statement in which he denies having given a view on any possible negotiations.
A spokeman for Apple said the firm could not comment on "rumours and speculation". But neither firm has outright denied being in talks, and the media seem to be taking the comments from both sides with a pinch of salt as Bloomberg stands by its story.
Apple has a genuine interest in the music industry since it previewed an online digital music service in December. The service, set to launch in the next few weeks, will allow Apple users to buy and download digital music for their Macs or iPods.
The computer firm is also thought to have registered the domain name appleuniversal.com. A search of the Whois.com database for checking domain names reveals that Apple Computer, Cupertino, is indeed listed as the owner, but an attached note reads: "Hahahah!!! Tricked You!!! April Fools Tricked You! HA HA HA HAHAHA."
Apple's stock has dropped 8 per cent on the back of the rumours and the company's second-quarter results, posted today, showed a net profit of $14m - down 65 per cent on the same period in the previous year - on revenues of $1.47bn, compared with revenues of $1.49bn for Q2 2002.
If revenues stay flat in the third quarter the company is expecting a small profit. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said: "This is the year of the portable for Apple. Laptops made up 42 per cent of sales for the previous quarter. That's a much higher percentage than the industry average, but where the trend ends, we're not sure."
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