French media group Vivendi has denied suggestions that it will sell its Universal Music Group division to private equity suitors.

New CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy told The Guardian that Vivendi planned to hold on to the world's largest music unit, which saw first-quarter sales rise 14 per cent in a declining market to €1bn partially helped by a new album from Mariah Carey, for at least 10 years.

A couple of years ago Vivendi board member Claude Bebear suggested that Apple was in talks to buy Universal Music. At the time Apple CEO Steve Jobs denied the announcements saying: "Apple has never made any offer to invest in or acquire a major music company. The press statements this morning attributed to Vivendi board member Claude Bebear are untrue, as Mr. Bebear has confirmed in a later report."