By Stephen M. Silverman
April 12, 2002 10:00 AM

With nearly $30 million in her bank account, thanks to a pay-off from her last record label to end their relationship, pop diva Mariah Carey, 32, is playing hard to get before signing on with another company, reports Reuters. “There are three or four big labels aggressively pursuing her. Mariah’s a smart businesswoman and is taking her time before she makes any decisions,” Carey’s spokeswoman told the news service on Thursday. The labels under consideration are Vivendi Universal’s Island Def Jam, run by Lyor Cohen; AOL Time Warner Inc.’s Elektra Entertainment Group, run by Sylvia Rhone (AOL Time Warner is the parent company of PEOPLE.); and J Records, run by music legend Clive Davis. The first two labels declined comment, but in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Universal Music chairman and chief executive officer Doug Morris, acknowledging his awareness that he is competing against Davis at J Records and Rhone at Elektra, said, “We are trying to sign her. I’m not sure who’ll get it, but we have a very good chance.” Under her buyout deal with EMI Group’s Virgin Records in January, Carey received $28 million to walk away and retained another $21 million previously paid to her when their contract was first signed in April 2001. (Their relationship fell apart in the wake of the disappointing sales for her album “Glitter.”) Universal’s Morris declined to comment on any possible contract terms to bring Carey to his label, though the bottom line is considered unlikely to reach the estimated $80 million to $100 million EMI originally agreed to pay her when she was riding high at this time last year.