Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 26--(AP) Gaylord Entertainment Co. has sold its Christian music division, Word Entertainment, to Warner Music Group for $84.1 million in cash.

Word Entertainment has a music catalog containing more than 75,000 masters and also is a leader in printing and distributing hymnals and choral music. The deal, which was announced on Monday, is expected to be completed in January. The company is home to some of Christian music's top-selling performers including Amy Grant, Sixpence None The Richer, Rachael Lampa, Sandi Patti, Point of Grace, Jaci Velasquez, Nicole C. Mullen and Marc Schultz.

The sale is the latest from Grand Ole Opry owner Gaylord, which is in the midst of a major restructuring effort to focus on its more profitable convention hotel and hospitality business. The company announced a third-quarter loss of $45.1 million earlier this month. "We are making significant progress on our strategy to transition Gaylord Entertainment to a new, focused Gaylord," said Colin Reed, the company's chief executive officer. Gaylord reported earlier this year that Word had not lived up to expectations since being bought from Nashville-based Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1996.

Warner Music Group CEO Roger Ames said Warner could maximize Word's potential "at a time when Christian music is enjoying explosive growth." "Over the last five years, the Christian/Gospel genre has grown more than 12 percent a year while the overall music industry has grown at 3 percent a year," he said. Warner is already home to record companies such as The Atlantic Group, Elektra, Warner Brothers, London-Sire and Rhino. It is a division of AOL Time Warner Inc.

In separate statements, the companies said Malcolm Mimms will remain as president and CEO of Word and that the division will remain based in Nashville, also headquarters of the Gospel Music Association of much of the genre's business. Word's publishing arm has approximately 45 songwriters under contract and administers the rights to more than 40,000 songs. It is also the exclusive distributor of Christian labels Integrity Music and Big Idea, among others. Sixteen of its recording artists garnered this year's Dove Awards for Christian music.

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