U2's long-serving manager Paul McGuinness has stepped down after thirty years at the helm of one of music's biggest acts. Reports in the New York Times, citing direct knowledge of the deal, suggest that McGuinness will sell his Principle Management company to Live Nation - the US based entertainment conglomerate.

Madonna's company Maverick has also been picked up by Live Nation, with the two assets purchased for a price of €30 million. Guy Oseary, who ran Maverick, will take over the day-to-day management of U2, while McGuinness will become the chairman of Principle but it's currently unclear as to what his duties will entail.

Quoted by the New York Times, McGuinness commented on the deal: "It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock and roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career."

"I am delighted that Live Nation, who with Arthur Fogel have been our long term touring partners, have joined us in creating this powerful new force in artist management. I have long regarded Guy Oseary as the best manager of his generation and there is no one else I would have considered to take over the day-to-day running of our business."

Live Nation now hold a lot of cards in the music and entertainment business. In addition to the myriad of events they promote, they also operate Ticketmaster and manage over 200 acts via its Artist Nation division and now they have added U2 and Madonna to their ever-growing stable.

Meanwhile, U2 are tipped to announce details of their new album at the Super Bowl XLVIII next February. Reports from Billboard today have hinted that the album might be released in April and an announcement will be made at the most-watched event in US television.