Michael Jackson in Beatles rights threat

Singer faces losing stranglehold over backcatalogue

Michael Jackson is facing the prospect of losing his control of The Beatles‘ back catalogue.

The singer, who snapped up the rights after outbidding Paul McCartney in 1985, looks set to relinquish his ownership by May 31, 2008 after allegedly running up huge debts.

The move comes after Jackson sold part of his ownership to Sony last year with an option to buy his entire stake at a later date.

It is believed that he may also have to pay $250 million (£129 million) for expenses the company have incurred since taking over the partnership.

But under his current deal, Jackson is still expected to get an annual advance of $6.5 million (£3.34 million) and $2 million (£1 million) under another clause, reports Fox News.

He bought the coveted publishing rights for $48 million (£27 million) in 1985. They are now thought to be worth $500 million (£283 million).

The 4,000-song catalogue contains more than 200 Beatles tunes.